Gov. Justice urges WV highway bond support


The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — In addition to better roads and immediate job growth, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice believes his “slam dunk” Roads to Prosperity plan will lead to economic growth that will sustain more jobs in the future.

“What will happen is this,” Justice said Wednesday at a town hall meeting at Marshall University.

“I believe there will be an instantaneous growth in jobs. It will take several years, but we will maintain those jobs. As we maintain those jobs, if the federal government comes through with an infrastructure program, we will just be rolling that into the whole program. But in addition to that, if they don’t, just for the pure fact of population growth, the pure fact of income from those jobs that are produced, you will have additional monies to do more projects that will maintain or create more jobs.”

Justice has proposed about $2.8 billion in road construction and maintenance projects in each county of the state. The plan is predicted to create 48,000 immediate jobs.

State officials plan to fund about $1 billion in construction through raising tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike and traditional bond sales, but the additional $1.6 billion in projects will require passage of a constitutional amendment to allow the state to pursue additional bonds.

Voters go to the polls Saturday, Oct. 7, to decide whether or not to sign off on the plan. The gasoline tax and Division of Motor Vehicles fee increases approved by the state Legislature this past session are already in effect and approval of the bond sales will not add any additional taxes or fees.

Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Smith said the department has already collected $17 million from the added fees. They have already begun putting that money to use by tackling secondary two-lane roads.

“Those are the roads you all live on and that never get attended to,” Smith said. “So we said while we wait for the first debt payments, let’s use that pay-as-you-go money to take care of the secondary roads. I think that will be a popular program.”

Along with $250 million in work through federal aid, the West Virginia Division of Highways has already leveraged $415 million for road projects, Smith said.

Big projects that have regional impacts will be funded through the bonds citizens will vote to approve in October. Those projects include widening Interstate 64 from Huntington to Charleston, plus a new Nitro-St. Albans bridge, and widening the turnpike.

“What I want you all to understand is the real significance of what happens Oct. 7,” Smith said. “We are able to get in one fell swoop a lot of those big projects and get those moving, but also to continue using all the other funds to work on the roads you live on.”

Smith said it would be tragic to pass up the opportunity the state has in front of it.

Justice said this is just the beginning.

“There is going to be so many opportunities that are going to happen in West Virginia it’s going to be off the charts,” he said. He called on everyone to vote, saying 12 percent of the population can’t just come out to vote.

“I don’t want to pass this by nine votes,” he said. “I want to send a message to the world that we are West Virginia and we are on our way. This is West Virginians, and we are on our way. I need you. You’ve got to get to the polls.”

The last day to register to vote in the special election is Monday, Sept. 18. Early voting will begin Sept. 22 and end Oct. 4. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook@TaylorStuckHD.

fixourroadswvGov. Justice urges WV highway bond support
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More than $1 billion in road projects planned if bond passes

By in News | August 28, 2017 at 5:00PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A 16-page list of highway construction projects planned by the Justice administration includes more than $1 billion that would be financed through the road bond amendment if approved by residents in a statewide vote scheduled for Oct. 7.

There are 35 projects on the list in 18 different counties that would be paid for with general obligation bonds. Bonds will be sold to finance the work and then paid off from taxes and fees already approved by state lawmakers.

The 16-page list includes dozens of other projects that will be paid for through Turnpike tolls, Garvee bonds and other funding.

MORE see bond projects here

Monongalia County has the most projects on the bond list at seven including plans for a new I-79 access to downtown Morgantown that would cost $100 million.

The DOH plans to spend $172.5 million for a new I-70 bridge in Ohio County while $170 million would finance an I-64 widening project at Nitro on the Kanawha-Putnam line including an additional bridge across the Kanawha River.

During an appearance Monday on MetroNews “Talkline,” former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin Chief of Staff Chris Stadelman said bond supporters need to get their message out soon.

“You’re going to want to talk about jobs. You’re going to want to talk about new roads and improved roads and you’re going to want to stress that there aren’t new taxes involved with this. That the fees and taxes that are going to pay off these bonds have already been approved,” Stadelman said.

A coalition of business and labor needs to be on board or the bond has “no chance” for passage, Stadelman said.

“You want to have a campaign that gets very local,” he said. “Go to county commissions, city councils, development authorities, pass resolutions and get them on board.”

The list released by the state Division of Highways Monday included the following projects:

General Obligation Bond Projects

(If the Roads to Prosperity Referendum Passes)

Berkeley County – WV 51 Widening Widen WV 51 from I-81 I/C to WV 51/US 11 I/S (Inwood Bypass) $23,500,000

Berkeley County – I-81 Widening Widen I-81 $75,000,000

Cabell County – I-64 widening near Barboursville Mall  $65,000,000

Cabell County – I-64 widening near 29th Street exit  $50,000,000

Cabell County – U.S. 60 widening-Merritt Creek  $25,000,000

Cabell County –  construct near I-64 Culloden interchange $50,000,000

Hancock County – New Cumberland Relocate and widen WV-2 through New Cumberland $11,000,000

Harrison County – I-79/US 50 Interchange Construct split diamond interchange per draft Harrison County 2025 Transportation Plan report $30,000,000

Jefferson County – US 340 Operational Improvements at Harpers Ferry Construct turning lanes; climbing lane, etc. $11,000,000

Jefferson County – US 340 Widening Charles Town – VA Line Construct 4-lane highway between Charles Town to Rippon $40,000,000

Kanawha County — Widening of state Route 622 at Cross Lanes from 3 to 5 lanes $30,000,000

Kanawha County — Jefferson Road improvements in South Charleston $66,000,000

Kanawha County — Update of U.S. Route 119 in Charleston from MacCorkle Ave to Jefferson Road $65,000,000

Kanawha County – MacCorkle Avenue Roadway Improvements Reconstruct pavement and improve various pedestrian, roadway and intersection operations improvements $10,000,000

Lewis County – I-79 Exit 99 Interchange Rebuild SB Exit and Install Lighting $16,000,000

Mingo County – King Coal Highway-Horsepen Mountain to Gilbert Creek Construct 4-lane highway including Gilbert Creek Connector $40,000,000

Monongalia County – US 119 Mileground – Donna Ave to CR 857 (Airport to Easton) – 0.59 mile $15,000,000

Monongalia County – Greenbag Road Improvements Improve I/S & Widen (Kingwood Pike to White Park) $16,000,000

Monongalia County – West Run Improvements Improve I/S & widen – jct CR 67 – jct US 119 $13,000,000

Monongalia County – VanVoorhis Road Improvements Widen, improve drainage, add sidewalk – jct CR 67/1 to jct CR 60 $11,000,000

Monongalia County – Beechhurst Ave Spot Improvements Improve I/S & widen – 6th to 8th St $8,000,000

Monongalia County – I-79 Star City I/C Improvements Construct Directional Ramps and Improve Chaplin Hill Road $40,000,000

Monongalia County – US 119 Mileground – Cheat Rd – Donna Ave (existing roundabout to Airport) – widen $27,000,000

Monongalia County – I-79 Access to Morgantown Construction new connector from I-79 to Morgantown; location to be determined $100,000,000

Morgan County – Fairview Drive Connector Construct 2-lane connector road between US 522 and Fairview Drive near Hospital in Berkeley Springs $6,000,000

Morgan County – US 522 (Bypass at Berkeley Springs) Reconstruct US 522 in Morgan County to 4-lane highway around Berkeley Springs $40,000,000

Ohio County – I-70 Bridge Rehabilitation/Renovation Major Rehab and Replace $172,500,000

Pendleton County – WV 33 Climbing Lane Construct climbing lane on US 33 $16,000,000

Putnam County – I-64 Widening Widen I-64 from US 35 to Nitro including new bridge across Kanawha River $170,000,000

Roane County – Scott Miller Hill – US 33 Relocation Relocate US 33 to a new two-lane road from CR 3 to CR 5/12 in Roane County $42,000,000

Tucker County – Corridor H – US 219 Connector to WV 72 I/C Construct 4 lane Corridor H $90,000,000

Wayne County – Tolsia Highway-Pritchard to I-64 Construct 4-lane highway from Pritchard Intermodal Facility in previously graded areas & utilize existing US 52 & widen remaining areas $150,000,000

Wetzel County – WV 2 Widening Widen to four lanes from Proctor to Kent $80,000,000

Wood County – WV 2 Widening Reconstruct to 5-lane highway from Wood CR 3/8 to 0.3 miles north I/S WV SR 31 (2.0 miles) $36,000,000

Wood County – WV 14 Widening Pettyville-Downtown Reconstruct and widen WV 14 to four lanes from the Parkersburg City boundary south to the newly relocated WV 14 four-lane highway $15,000,000

fixourroadswvMore than $1 billion in road projects planned if bond passes
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Letter: Vote yes on WV road bond amendment

West Virginians have the opportunity Oct. 7 to jumpstart our economy, create thousands of jobs and fix our potholes by voting yes on the “Roads to Prosperity” amendment.

Being back in the Legislature after a long absence, I am extremely proud that we recognized our crumbling roads and bridges needed to be fixed.

We passed a resolution to allow our citizens to vote on a $1.6 billion road bond. We also passed legislation that raises revenue to repay the bonds.

One only has to travel throughout our beautiful state to experience firsthand the need for new road construction and road maintenance.

The 2017 legislative session brought to the forefront many issues that have long been ignored. West Virginians are lucky legislators heroically stepped up to the plate — increased some fees and made adjustments to the gasoline tax — and put forth the “Road to Prosperity” amendment.

We listened to our constituents who complained about the deplorable condition of our roads. We all are tired of the damage done to our cars and the realization that many of our bridges may not be sound.

In a session mired in budget issues because our tax revenues are down, we rose above partisan differences and put forth the opportunity to put us on the road to prosperity.

Just think, with road construction and road maintenance, workers will be out in full force, roads will be improved and the economic benefit of $1.6 billion dollars of spending will be enormous and transformative.

Even though the Legislature passed the road bond resolution and the necessary revenue measures to repay the bonds, sadly the GOP Executive Committee voted to oppose the measure.

I am outraged and dismayed committee members chose that path.

Good roads attract new businesses, more tourism and a better quality of day-to-day travel for all of us.

I am sad the executive committee wants to hinder economic growth and consign us to poor roads. We need to look to the long-term future of our state and improve our existing roads and build new ones.

West Virginia has many challenges, and our Legislature has taken a bold first step to start the road to prosperity.

Now we need to vote yes on Oct. 7.

Charlotte Lane


Lane is a Republican delegate representing the 35th district.

fixourroadswvLetter: Vote yes on WV road bond amendment
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Poll: Residents say they want to vote for road bond

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The upcoming vote on a West Virginia road bond stands a good chance of passage based on the results of the latest MetroNews West Virginia Poll.

But the real question is: Of all those who say they intend to vote on the bond issue, how many will actually follow up and do so?

West Virginia voters go to the polls on Oct. 7 on the road bond. Voters will be asked to allow the state to sell bonds to finance as much as $3 billion in road projects to be paid off with fee and tax increases already approved by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor.

An overwhelming number of those interviewed for the statewide poll say they intend to vote in favor of the bond’s passage.

Even the professional pollster who designed the questions, Rex Repass, has his doubts.

“We know that’s not going to happen,” Repass said in a telephone interview.

“I think citizens will say ‘Yes, I will vote,’ feel a responsibility to vote. But the reality is, even in general elections, turnout is not what it was in the past.’”

Passage would be a signature achievement for Gov. Jim Justice, who has said the roads projects to be funded would boost the state economy and provide employment for thousands.

The road bond effort has hit significant bumps in recent weeks, though. One was an apparent late start by groups outside the government in organizing a supportive marketing effort. The other was a vote of opposition by the state Republican Executive Committee.

Most West Virginians say they’re likely to vote in the special election on the road bond. Fifty one percent described themselves as extremely likely to do so, while 32 percent said they’re very likely.

“There seems to be some potential optimism for the road bond initiative, and there is a desire for road bond improvement,” Repass said. “However, this vote will completely be determined by turnout for groups behind or against the road bond.”

Of those, most interviewed said they intend to vote in favor of the road bond. Sixty-seven percent responded favorably while 19 percent were against it and 14 percent were unsure.

“While there appears to be some support, the actual turnout will drive approval or disapproval of the road bond amendment,” Repass said.

He added, “People would like to see the roads fixed, would like to see infrastructure improvements. But will they actually vote? If every West Virginian participated, I think it would pass. But I don’t think every West Virginian will.”

The West Virginia Poll resulted from interviews conducted between August 11-20 with a sample of 400 likely voters in West Virginia including registered Democrats, Republicans, Libertarian, Mountain Party, and unaffiliated or independent voters.

Likely voters in all 55 West Virginia counties were represented in the survey modeled to the number of registered voters based on data from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office.

Political party seemed to make little difference in participants’ evaluations of the road bond.

Of Democrats, 68.4 percent were in favor and 19.9 percent were against with 11.8 percent not sure.

Of Republicans, 67.5 percent were in favor with 17.9 percent against and 14.6 percent unsure.

There were some variations based on ideology.

Of those who described themselves as liberals, 78.3  percent expressed support for the bond with 15.7 percent against and 6 percent not sure.

Of conservatives, 68.8 percent expressed support with 18.8 percent against and 12.3 percent unsure.

Self-described moderates were 56.8 percent in favor, 21.6 percent in opposition and 21.6 percent “not sure.”

Observers have wondered how Justice’s early August party switch might factor into people’s attitudes toward the bond vote.

Justice has said there’s everything to gain and — now that the funding mechanism has passed — nothing to lose.

Last week, while speaking at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Summit, Justice said his travels around the state demonstrate support for the bond.

“I went to Welch; there were 75 people in the room. And I said, ‘I want you tell me the truth. Will you do that? Will you tell me anybody you’ve heard — whether it be an inlaw or an outlaw or cousin, even Crazy Harry that works down at the 7-Eleven — anybody you’ve heard that’s going to vote against the road referendum,’” Justice said.

“There wasn’t a single, single hand. Now, I pushed ’em because I wanted ’em to say something like ‘I heard it’s going to raise our taxes,; which is hocus pocus bull. It’s not going to raise your taxes a dime. Every single dime of the revenue is going to the roads.”

Justice said that, in his view, it’s imperative the bond pass.

“This is our absolute chance to go somewhere and start lifting ourselves off,” he told the crowd.

State budget

One of the other big items on Justice’s agenda will be the state budget.

State leaders have required special legislative sessions the past two years to reach agreement on the budget. In 2015, lawmakers relied largely on an increase in the tobacco tax, and this past year the balanced budget relied largely on cuts, particularly to higher education.

Of those who participated in the West Virginia Poll, most felt that cuts should be part of any balanced budget solution.

Thirty-nine percent advised a balanced approach of cuts and tax increases, 31 percent advised balancing mostly through cuts to spending, and 21 percent advised using only cuts to balance the budget.

Only 8 percent advised balancing the budget mostly through tax increases, and 2 percent proposed balancing the budget only through tax increases.

Suggestions on what should be cut, though, were all over the board.

Twenty-nine percent suggested cutting higher education, 17 percent suggested cutting social services such as health care and other services for low income people, and 3 percent said public schools should be subject to cuts.

Those are the big three areas of spending in the state budget.

Twenty-eight percent of respondents said those areas should be cut roughly equally.

Twenty-two percent said they’re not sure.

Coming Thursday:

Do voters prefer a Democratic or Republican majority in the Legislature?

How do state residents view Governor Justice’s party switch?

Where does overall approval of the Legislature stand?

Attitudes about prescription drug addiction in West Virginia.

And, are state residents confident in local media?


Results of this edition of MetroNews West Virginia Poll are based on interviews conducted between August 11-20, 2017 with a sample of 400 likely voters in West Virginia including registered Democrats, Republicans, Libertarian, Mountain Party, and unaffiliated or independent voters.  Data collection methods used included landline phone, cell phone, and opt-in Internet panel.  Each data collection method has inherent strengths and weakness.

Likely voters in all 55 West Virginia counties were represented in the survey modeled to the number of registered voters based on data from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office.

When using multiple data collection methods, it is not appropriate to apply a probability-based margin of error to interviews completed.  However, applying statistical tests of significance to each question asked at the 95 percent confidence interval yields an overall statistical error of +/- 4.9 percentage points based on the 400 interviews.  The 95 percent confidence interval varies by question.

The purpose of the MetroNews West Virginia Poll is to provide a snapshot of opinion and timely voter views in the Mountain State.  The media sponsor of the West Virginia Poll is MetroNews, the statewide radio network owned by West Virginia Radio Corporation.

Rex Repass is director of the West Virginia Poll and president of Research America Inc. Repass is responsible for questionnaire design, the respondent screening and selection process, data tabulation, statistical analysis, and reporting of results.

The MetroNews West Virginia Poll is a non-partisan survey of public opinion conducted by the Repass and Research America Inc. The West Virginia Poll has been directed by Mr. Repass and conducted periodically since January 21, 1980.  The name The West Virginia Poll is a registered trademark Research America Inc., all rights reserved. For more information, see www.wvpoll.com.

fixourroadswvPoll: Residents say they want to vote for road bond
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