Shepherd Snyder Published

Roads To Prosperity Program Marks Five Years Of Road, Infrastructure Projects

Justice Roads to Prosperity.jpg

Friday marked the fifth anniversary of the launch of the state’s Roads to Prosperity program.

The state passed the program at Gov. Jim Justice’s urging in 2017, selling $1.6 billion in bonds to upgrade state infrastructure. Since then, the program has funded more than 1,000 projects of varying scale. These projects have mostly focused on improving state roads, with the state Department of Transportation (DOT) heading most of them.

“I think it’s exceeded everybody’s expectations,” Commissioner of Highways Jimmy Wriston said. “We went from a more than $500 million shortfall in 2017 to a $1.2 billion surplus just this past year. Plus, we also have a great benefit of counteracting the decades and decades of underinvestment in our roadways.”

Wriston said the program is a massive undertaking, citing that nearly 94 percent of all roads are maintained by the state.

Larger projects include the Coalfields Expressway, which connects southern West Virginia to western Virginia, a six-lane widening of the West Virginia Turnpike around Beckley and Corridor H connecting Grant, Tucker and Hardy counties to northwestern Virginia.

Bridge projects, including the Donald M. Legg Memorial Bridge on Interstate 64 and reconstruction of multiple bridges along Interstate 70, have been managed as well.

Wriston said the tackling of larger projects also gave the DOT room to handle smaller, secondary roads through the Secondary Roads Maintenance Initiative.

“There’s a lot of trickle down there, not just with the construction of the road projects, but the folks that supply the road materials, the folks that actually work out there and bought slushies and lunches, eating at restaurants while they’re working. It’s all been working together,” Wriston said.

The DOT website has an estimated statistic of 48,000 jobs created as a result of the project.