Secondary Roads Initiatives Lead WVDOT Back to Maintenance Roots
While the passage of the 2017 Roads to Prosperity Bond Amendment included funding for major highway and bridge construction and maintenance projects, West Virginians had hoped they would see more of an emphasis put on secondary road maintenance; the roads they travel on daily. In response to the cries of “#FTDR” (“Fix the Damn Roads”), the West Virginia Department of Transportation (DOT), prompted by Governor Jim Justices’ 2019 Secondary Roads Initiative and aided by financial support from the Legislature, returned one of the most productive years in recent history in terms of secondary road maintenance work accomplished. The Secondary Roads Initiatives began with Governor Justice addressing Division of Highway’s District Engineers/Managers and County Supervisors and challenging them to identify and prioritize the secondary roads that needed attention in their respective districts, and then focusing on getting the work done. The Secondary Roads Initiative was reinforced by newly appointed DOT management, emphasizing a “maintenance first” mentality, to rebrand and change the culture within the agency.
The Legislature showed their support for DOT’s change of direction and moved $104 million from the state’s general fund to the State Road Fund, which was used to bolster DOH’s annual plan allocation. For the state fiscal year 2020, the annual plan went from $265.5 million to $305.5 million for the operation budget of the maintenance and bridge organizations. The additional funding went towards purchasing needed equipment and funding a slip and small bridge repair program. The addition of Gradalls to the equipment fleet allowed for 10,538 miles (39% of paved roads) of roadway to be ditched; 1,261 miles of roadway repaved; and 301 major slip projects to be completed. In order to be transparent and communicate plans and progress, DOT produced an interactive map (https://transportation.wv.gov/Pages/2019-WVDOT-Projects.aspx) showing ditching, patching, stabilization, slip repairs, paving, and bridge projects.