Associated Press Published

Gov. Jim Justice Fires Transportation Secretary Tom Smith

Former West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Smith speaking at the Fallen Worker Memorial unveiling in September, 2017.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has fired state transportation secretary and highways commissioner Tom Smith.

Justice announced Smith’s firing in a brief statement Sunday, March 10.

The governor says he wants “a new direction” for the department, including “a return to the core mission of maintaining the quality of our secondary roads and bridges.”

Voters in 2017 passed a referendum for the state to sell $1.6 billion in bonds to finance state road repairs and construction. In his State of the State address in January, Justice proposed steering road bond money meant for major projects toward repairing secondary roads.

On Friday Justice said he would announce his plans Wednesday to accelerate secondary road repairs and maintenance. The governor said “our secondary roads aren’t being addressed with the urgency needed.”