|By Bob Weaver|
The West Virginia Department of Highways continues to get out of the road building, improvements and paving business, saying it saves the taxpayers money.
They are still claiming they are not privatizing the agency.
The state is working on creating several new toll roads to generate their construction.
Administrator Paul Mattox noted that in 1996, the Division of Highways had a $116.7 million budget for paving projects, which was enough to pave 1,371 miles of roadway.
Last year, the budget for paving had grown to $160 million - but with soaring costs for asphalt and other road-building materials, it was enough to pave only 613 miles of road.
At the current rate, any given road in the state will be repaved once every 36 years, when officials say the preferred paving cycle is once every 12 years.
The business assumption is based on private contractors making road improvements, repairs or paving at a lower costs that state operations.
WV-DOH has been purging equipment from road districts, saying the districts will perform "core maintainence" only.
Longtime ideas to have counties and districts chip and tar roads appears nearly gone. Also gone is most drainage replacements and repairs, now contracted.
A recent two-lane highway project of a mile or so on Rt. 16 near Grantsville cost about $500,000 for paving and drainage.