Commissioners discuss safety, road conditions

WELLSBURG — After meeting with regional leaders for the West Virginia Division of Highways recently, Brooke County officials plan to take their concerns to the state Legislature.

“Like many constituents of Brooke County, I’m very concerned about the condition of the roads. It’s unsafe,” Sheriff Larry Palmer told the commissioners Tuesday.

“Really they are deplorable and I find the speed the state is working at unacceptable,” he added.

Palmer cited, among other areas, potholes in the south end of state Route 2 in Follansbee and a section of state Route 67 where the edge of the road is crumbling off the hillside, necessitating a two-way stop.

The county commissioners noted they were among local officials who met recently with district officials to discuss how revenue from the Roads to Prosperity bond issue will be spent in their region.

The proposed Route 2 bypass in New Cumberland is among local projects for which the bond money has been allocated.

But the commissioners said funding for smaller repairs and maintenance work seems to be woefully lacking.

“Pretty much we were told it’s all because of money,” County Commissioner Jim Andreozzi said, adding, “I think we need to do everything we can — write to all of our legislators.”

Andreozzi said funding for road repairs and maintenance in Brooke County is the second lowest in the state.

David Brabham, district manager of engineering, for the state Division of Highways, was called for comment. He said Brooke County has the second lowest number of road miles in the state, one of the factors used by the state to determine funding for road repairs and maintenance “so it receives the second smallest piece of the pie.”

He confirmed the number of vehicles traveling the roads, though not their size, is another factor.

Resident Anthony “Butch” Rotellini suggested heavy water trucks used by the natural gas industry have caused more than typical wear on roads.

Commission President Tim Ennis said crews have patched Route 2 near the Domino’s Pizza shop in Follansbee to little avail.

“They need to dig that up and replace it,” he said.

Earlier this year state highway officials said pavement of Route 2 is slated to coincide with the replacement of a deteriorating bridge deck beneath its intersection with Allegheny Street.

City Manager John DeStefano, who was called for comment, said he’s been advised paving of that section of Route 2 will occur this fall, with the bridge work to be done early next year.

Ennis stressed the commissioners don’t blame local officials and road crews, who he believes are doing their best with limited resources.

Palmer noted the state’s vehicle registration fee was raised from $30 to $51.50 and was among auto fees raised to generate revenue for road maintenance.

“I haven’t seen much of it spent here,” he said.

At its website at driveforwardwv.com, the state Department of Transportation has announced the following projects:

• Construction of a retaining wall and other measures to address two slips along Route 67, slated to begin in September or October.

• A retaining wall to stabilize a slip along the Big Rock section of Rockdale Road. The work has been completed, with guardrail to follow.

• A retaining wall or other measures to correct a slide along St. Johns Road, slated to begin this year and be completed in June.

• Resurfacing of 0.27 miles of state Route 27 set to begin in October.

Brabham said bids for most of the projects haven’t been awarded yet.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Approved the $81,700 purchase of two new ambulances from J.J. Emergency Vehicles of Morgantown, W.Va.

Bob Fowler, the county’s ambulance director, said the vehicles will replace two ambulances that are being retired after being used for more than 300,000 miles. He said their replacement will save the county about $1,500 in monthly repair and maintenance costs for them.

• Tabled a request by Mario Boni to close Fourth Avenue on Archer Heights. Andreozzi noted the board has heard from supporters and opponents of the move and will give parties involved the opportunity to work out a solution themselves.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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