With the West Virginia Division of Highways being questioned about downsizing and outsourcing labor, an independent study shows many DOH workers will seek retirement in the next five years.

The agency has denied a recent sell-off of highway equipment is a sign of belt-tightening, including the elimination of some services generally provided by county road departments.

The Rahall Transportation Institute at Marshall University conducted the study for the department.

It showed 70 percent of the DOH's workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next five years, the average age of DOH workers is 49.

The study consisted of a review of DOT records and an on-line survey that was answered by 55 percent of the DOH workforce.

The study says many of the most experienced workers who are getting close to retirement are engineers.

The Rahall Institute study said the DOH should be encouraging workers in other DOH positions to take training, through tuition assistance, to become engineers.

Retention and recruitment hinges on salaries, the study says.

The DOH is currently 12 percent below its allocated workforce, including truck drivers, maintenance workers and young engineers.