Infrastructure

Two contentious pieces of legislation--one repealing the prevailing wage and the other making West Virginia a Right-to-Work state --see votes on the Senate and House floors, respectively.

Both pass by slim majorities with some lawmakers even crossing party lines in the process.

The prevailing wage repeal heads to Governor Tomblin's desk, but Right-to-Work will return to the Senate after some amendments in the House.

islandjoe / creativecommons.org

The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved a committee substitute Friday to Senate Bill 16, a bill that would provide up to one million dollars in tax credits to any company delivering broadband service to certain hard-to-reach rural areas.


In light of the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, this week on Inside Appalachia we remember the West Virginia water crisis from 2014. We’ll also hear from people in the coalfields who don’t have access to clean water, day in and day out. And we’ll honor the traditional “Appalachian” way of coming together to lean on each other.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, host Beth Vorhees tags along on a bridge inspection on Interstate 64 just outside of Charleston and talks with state transportation officials about the condition of our bridges.  That story on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Bicycles, Bikes
Pixabay

A regional committee plans to study bicycle needs and priorities in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle and Washington County, Maryland.

The Journal reports that the Regional Bike Plan Study is part of the Hagerstown Eastern Panhandle Metropolitan Planning Organization's Long-Range Transportation Plan.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Republican Senate Finance Chair Mike Hall has been outspoken on the issue of road funding since his party took over the legislature in January.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito is hopeful Congress can approve a long-term funding plan for the nation’s roads and bridges even though senators were forced to approve yet another short-term measure last week. The Senator made a quick stop in Nitro to talk with reporters about the measure Monday.

Members of the U.S. Senate, including Capito and Sen. Joe Manchin, approved a three-year funding bill Thursday that would mean more than $2 billion in road funding for West Virginia over the bill’s duration. 

Senators, however, were forced to also approve a short-term funding expansion through the end of October because members of the House of Representatives had already left town for their August break.

National Governors Assocaition

Members of Congress will continue to debate a long-term plan to fund the nation’s Highway Trust Fund as the U.S. Senate takes up the bill once again Monday. The fund, which expires Friday, dedicates dollars for highways and railways across the country for six years, but only provides funding for three of those years.

Without any deal, states could take a major hit on the infrastructure projects they already have underway.

“I have to stop somewhere about 350 road projects immediately. It would cost us about $1.2 billion immediately,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Saturday. “It would be a disaster.”

coalfieldsexpresswayauthority.com

A slumping coal industry has put a Coalfields Expressway project in southern West Virginia on hold.

The state planned to build a section of the four-lane highway in McDowell County through a public-private partnership with a coal company. The company would convert a mined area into roadbed.

Coalfields Expressway Authority executive director Richard Browning says discussions about the project have stopped because of a depressed coal market.

Wyatt Greene

  Entering an election year, state officials aren't thrilled by suggestions to raise taxes, tolls and fees for roads.

As federal money keeps fizzling, some aren't dismissing the idea.

West Virginia's problems appear to be about upkeep, not necessarily congestion.

U.S. Census data from 2013 shows Charleston and Huntington metro areas had commute times about two minutes lower than the national average, almost 26 minutes. The Martinsburg-Hagerstown, Maryland, area exceeds the average by four minutes but includes Washington commuters.

Tim Kiser / Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passed a bill this week that calls for the creation of 10 natural gas pipeline corridors through federal lands within 2 years of the bill’s passage.

The committee passed HR 2295, also known as the National Energy Security Corridors Act, on a vote of 21-15, essentially along party lines. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., sits on the Natural Resources Committee and voted for the bill. Rep. David McKinley, also R-W.Va., co-sponsored the bill.

West Virginia Turnpike
Seicer / wikimedia Commons

The West Virginia Parkways Authority reported turnpike traffic stretching from the Thursday before Memorial Day to the holiday itself was up by just over 5 percent this year.

The increased traffic brought a total of 588, 739 transactions at toll plazas, totaling $1,281,926 toll revenues. That amount is up more than $65,000 from revenues collected over the Memorial Day weekend in 2014.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways released their final report this week, finding West Virginia needs an additional $1 billion annually to both maintain and expand the state's highway system.

The commission recommends keeping the tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike in order to leverage the road for a $1 billion road bond. The bond would be one time funds. Commissioners also recommend increases in some vehicle fees and taxes to create $141 million in new revenue.

en.wikipedia.com

Members of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways released their final recommendations Wednesday after a 20 month delay.

The commission was charged by Gov. Tomblin in 2012 with finding new revenue sources for the state’s aging roadways.

The 57 page report recommends lawmakers increase DMV fees and the state sales tax on motor vehicles. Those two increases, along with a new annual fee on alternative fuel vehicles, would create more than $115 million in new revenue.

West Virginia Turnpike
Seicer / wikimedia Commons

More than a year and a half after its initially announced release date, members of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways are set to release their final report Wednesday.

The commission began its work in October 2012, studying the state’s highway system, polling West Virginians on their priorities and compiling a list of new revenue sources as well as efficiencies.

In September 2013, the group held their final meeting to discuss recommendations, which include increasing the motor vehicle sales tax and DMV fees as well as continuing tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike to leverage more than $1 billion for new construction.

Why the Struggle for Water in the Coalfields?

May 8, 2015
Derek Cline

Water: it's a basic human need. On this episode, we'll get a glimpse into some of the water infrastructure needs in southern West Virginia. It's not easy to bring treated water to some of the remote places in the mountains. Wading through the bureaucratic application process, and finding creative solutions with multiple funding sources is often the only way to bring potable water to some rural communities. Find out what it's like to live with frequent outages and advisories, and the folks working to bring clean water to these areas.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A $4 million project on the Boone and Lincoln County border will soon bring public drinking water to some 215 homes in the area. The Morrisvale-Woodville expansion is expected to go to bid this fall and be completed by November of 2016.

A partnership between the two county Public Service Districts, County Commissions and West Virginia American Water, the extension, which will begin in Boone County, will cross the county line to pick up some 40 residents the Lincoln County PSD has not been able to serve.

WBOY

The Morgantown Municipal Airport's plan to extend its runway is drawing opposition from another airport in Bridgeport.

The Exponent Telegram reports that the Benedum Airport Authority voted Wednesday to submit a letter opposing the project to state and federal officials. The authority is the North Central West Virginia Airport's governing body.

Bettmann/Corbis

The Appalachian Regional Commission was created as part of the War on Poverty, declared by Lyndon B. Johnson in Appalachia in 1964.

Earlier this week Senator Shelley Moore Capito, along with other federal representatives, introduced legislation that would reauthorize the Appalachian Regional Commission. The announcement comes on the heels of a report evaluating the progress of the Commission after 50 years. 

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, along with other federal representatives, introduced legislation that would reauthorize the Appalachian Regional Commission. The announcement comes on the heels of a report evaluating the progress of the Commission after 50 years.

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