West Virginia Loses Rank in National Freeway Performance Study | News, Sports, Jobs

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Governor Jim Justice sits on top of a paver during an inspection in Wood County in October. (Photo courtesy of VM Governor’s Office)

CHARLESTON – An annual report examining the performance of road networks in all 50 states showed West Virginia lost 17 spots due to increased road fatalities and the condition of bridges, although the The state’s ranking may improve by next year.

The Reason Foundation’s 25th Annual Freeway Report ranked West Virginia 33rd in the country for performance and profitability, up from 16th in last year’s report. The report is based on 2018 data submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as third-party sources.

Of our surrounding states, only Pennsylvania and Maryland performed worse in the Reason Report, ranking 39th and 41st respectively. Kentucky was 4th, Ohio was 13th and Virginia was 21st.

According to the report, West Virginia lost ground due to a decrease in total disbursements per mile. The state ranked 43rd for capital disbursements per mile and 36th for bridge disbursements per mile. West Virginia also ranked 46th for the state’s overall road fatality rate and 49th because of the state’s structurally deficient bridges.

While the state ranked 10th for congestion due to West Virginia’s rural environment, it also ranked 30th for urban interstate roadway condition and 39th for inter-state roadways. -Rural states. The state also ranked 38th for total spending per mile on freeways and 46th for capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve the rankings, West Virginia needs to reduce its percentage of structurally deficient bridges, its overall death rate, and its capital and bridge spending. “ said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the report and senior director general for transport policy at the Reason Foundation. “The state is in the bottom five for structurally deficient bridges, overall death rate, and capital and bridge payouts per mile.”

It is possible that according to next year’s Reason Report, West Virginia could improve its position in the rankings due to road projects thanks to the Roads to Prosperity program currently under construction or proposed, as well as by putting more emphasis on maintenance of secondary roads.

Voters approved the Roads to Prosperity Amendment in 2017, allowing the issuance of bonds of up to $ 1.6 billion to improve major roads and bridges as well as the construction of new roads. According to the state Department of Transportation, 811 Roads to Prosperity projects totaling approximately $ 489.9 million and equivalent to nearly 1,543 miles have been completed since October – three years after the approval of the Roads to Prosperity Amendment. .

“I am very proud of what we have accomplished in such a short time and we have not finished by far” Governor Jim Justice said in a statement celebrating the third anniversary of the Roads to Prosperity program. “We will continue to improve our transportation network, which will allow us to bring more people and businesses to our great state for years to come; not to mention all the jobs that construction provides.

West Virginia holds $ 299 million in GARVEE bonds issued in 2017 and 2018, plus $ 800 million in first round general bonds issued in 2018 and $ 166 million in 2018 Parkways Authority bonds. Premiums on these bonds total $ 169 million, bringing total funding for road bonds to $ 1.3 billion. A second set of $ 600 million bonds hit the market last November, generating more than $ 746.5 million from $ 146.5 million in premiums.

Premiums from sales of Roads to Prosperity bonds have been used to maintain secondary roads for existing road projects. The state purchased brand new dump trucks, tandem road rollers, Roadtec pavers, Gradall excavators for ditch cleaning, highway mowers and other necessary equipment. As of last fall, nearly 280 pieces of maintenance equipment and vehicles were distributed among the 10 districts of the Ministry of Transportation.

According to the Department of Transportation, state road crews have traveled more than 442.6 miles for 277 paving projects, with 201.7 miles of projects underway as of Nov. 24. 25,984 projects totaling 34,315.7 miles.

The Reason Foundation is a libertarian think tank based in Los Angeles, California.

Steven Adams can be contacted at [email protected]

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