Keeping an eye on our roadways

Last week, Gov. Jim Justice called a press conference to announce yet another new program he says will help the state and its residents.

Armed with his requisite easels and colorful displays, Justice sat at a desk and announced not one, but two new websites focusing on West Virginia’s highways.

DriveForwardWV.com is set to allow us to track road projects funded through the Roads to Prosperity program.

Roads to Prosperity is the program enacted through last fall’s special election and the sale of millions of dollars in bonds to fund numerous projects in every county of the state.

“It gives the public a site they can go to and monitor the 600 construction sites that are going on throughout this state as to where we are and what we’re doing,” Justice explained during the press conference.

I took a few moments to check out this site soon after its announcement. It’s already live and filled with information which can be sorted by county.

It shows each project’s estimated start and finish, as well as the projected cost, a short description and an interactive map to show its location.

For example, I wanted to check out the Harmon Creek Bridge project, as it is near my home.

The project, estimated at $7 million, initially was set to begin in June (which it didn’t) and end June 2020. It will replace the bridge which carries Harmon Creek Road over the Panhandle Recreation Trail near U.S. 22.

Not much has been discussed about this project. I’m sure there are others people know nothing about, so I would suggest our readers take some time to explore this site and see what is planned for our area.

The second website transportation.wv.gov/wvroads is a new highways response team through the Department of Transportation.

Dubbed “Safety With Action Today (SWAT)” the program, including the website and a toll-free number, allows the public to contact state officials with concerns of road hazards or improvements.

So, if there is a problem with, for example, Pennsylvania Avenue or Main Street in Weirton (or for that matter, any part of Route 2), residents can go onto this website and submit their concerns or complaints to the WVDOT.

The condition of roads is always a concern, and the trick here is to know for certain which roads are maintained by local governments and which are state maintained.

I’m always seeing comments online from residents about particular areas of Weirton which seem to always have some road problem. Many place blame with the city, although the roads, in fact, are state roads.

So, instead of going onto Facebook and complaining, here is a way to make a formal comment or an official request to those who are responsible.

I’m certain it will receive a great deal of use. I wouldn’t be surprised if it crashes a few times in the next month or so.

Maintaining our roadways is an important operation of any level of government. It also is among the most expensive and doesn’t always happen in the amount of time people would like.

These programs probably won’t give us all the answers we would like, but hopefully they will fill in a few of the blanks and keep us better informed than we are now.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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