Transportation

Sarah Lowther Hensley / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A bill passed in the House today that gives more local control to counties when it comes to fixing their roads. It received over an hour’s worth of debate on the floor.

House Bill 4009 allows counties to propose and fund road projects by imposing a sales tax that would not exceed 1 percent. That tax would first have to be approved by 60 percent of the voters in the county in a referendum. The road plans would then have to be approved by the Division of Highways.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Del. Mick Bates of Raleigh County discussed his party's proposals in the House to increase road funding. Those proposals have failed so far this session, but now Bates and other members of the House are waiting to see what Senators will do with a bi-partisan bill that would increase some fees in order to generate revenue.

David Benbennick

Police in Mineral County say a motorist has died after his vehicle collided head-on with a school bus that had no students aboard.

Media outlets report the collision occurred shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday on U.S. Route 50 near New Creek. The bus driver wasn't hurt.

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.”

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce held a public forum Tuesday bringing together lawmakers from the Eastern Panhandle to discuss this past session.

  At the legislature today, legislation limiting abortions is on its way to the Senate after the House passed the bill overwhelmingly today.  Uber, the international car service, wants to do business in West Virginia, but legislators have concerns.  And we’ll talk with the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection about the bill to roll back the aboveground storage tank law on The Legislature Today.

At the legislature today, the first of many tort reforms bills was up for debate in the House of Delegates.  Republicans have said for years such legal reforms are necessary to make the state more business friendly. 

Also, lawmakers hear about a new idea to improve roads and highways. 

These stories, plus we’ll talk with the new minority leaders on The Legislature Today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPVbOQ1o9j4

Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In a Senate Transportation Committee meeting Tuesday, Senators were presented with one possible solution for the lack of funding for state roads, one that would allow counties to be more involved in the construction and maintenance process.

Senate Bill 258 is also known as the “Letting Our Counties Act Locally Act” and comes as the result of two years of work from stakeholders in Monongalia County.

A group is working to create a transportation plan for Raleigh and Fayette Counties. The Metropolitan   Planning Organization, or MPO, is working to identify transportation investments needed to move the region forward.

The MPO office is federally and state funded but it’s made up of local governments, business leaders, and others. The group is responsible for long range transportation planning.

Google Maps

 Update Wednesday July 30, 2014:

Crews completed the needed repairs on Tuesday night so East River Mountain Tunnel will remain open Wednesday night. The West Virginia Division of Highways has been advised that the Virginia Department of Transportation was able to complete its repairs overnight. There will be no need for the closure this evening. The northbound tunnel will remain open.

  Some lanes of an Interstate 77 tunnel along the Virginia-West Virginia border where a truck fire occurred are being rerouted for repairs.

The northbound lanes of the East River Mountain Tunnel will be closed from 8 p.m. Tuesday through 8 a.m. Wednesday, and from 8 p.m. Wednesday through 7 a.m. Thursday.

Google Maps

A tractor-trailer fire filled an Interstate 77 tunnel with black smoke, backed up traffic for miles and sent two West Virginia firefighters to a hospital.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports that the fire in the East River Mountain Tunnel near West Virginia's border with Virginia was extinguished by 5:50 p.m. Friday, more than 2 1/2 hours after it was reported. 

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

Beckley could become the third largest city in the state if plans to annex some communities go through. State roads are in poor condition and contractors who work on these roads worry about the federal funding shortfall.  And Adrian Wright began his barbeque business in Charleston on a street corner.  Now he owns his own restaurant.

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

On West Virginia Morning, a report about dueling political rallies as two major out of state politicians stump for their party's candidates for United States Senate.  Ashton Marra reports on that and transportation funding issues. And a check in with Roger May about his photography project "Looking at Appalachia." 

bus service
Barons Bus Lines

There will be bus service from Charleston to Morgantown beginning next week.  The I-RIDE 79 service will make five stops at cities along the way.

The bus service begins Tuesday.  It will make stops in Clendenin, Flatwoods, Weston, Clarksburg and Fairmont.  The West Virginia Division of Public Transit is offering the service for as little as 3 dollars and up to 15 dollars depending on the length of the trip.

Buses are ADA accessible and equipped with WiFi, power outlets, reclining seats, seat belts, and restrooms.

www.transportation.wv.gov/dmv

The West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles says some changes in laws will affect motorists starting this week.
 

"My Bike" Program Comes to West Virginia

Apr 7, 2014
Ben Adducchio / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

For young children with certain disabilities, it’s just about impossible to ride a conventional bicycle. So a children’s charity known as Variety, which began in Pittsburgh in 1928, along with several people who wanted to get involved, started a program called the “My Bike” program. It provides specialized bicycles, that are built to suit the special needs of the child.

Nearly 30 children received these specialized bikes at a recent ceremony in Morgantown with Variety.

Chris Light / en.wikipedia

A Wheeling official says the city's historic suspension bridge could be closed for up to two years for a lighting and wiring project.
 
City Manager Robert Herron says the $8.5 million project includes significant rewiring of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge.
 

Michlaovic / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia University is planning a multimillion-dollar upgrade of its Personal Rapid Transit.
 
The upgrade is the second phase of a modernization plan for the 38-year-old system.
 
The university's Board of Governor is scheduled to vote Friday on authorizing up to $60 million in bond funding for the project.
 

The House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on a bill that would affect the way tolls are collected in the state.

House Bill 4156 as introduced would create the Safe and Efficient Parkway Act, authorizes electronic collection and enforcement of tolls.
 
The bill would only apply to the current tolls on the turnpike in regard to enforcement as it is already equipped with the technology such as photographing license plates to detect violations.

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