The Times West Virginian

Opinion

March 9, 2014

‘Pothole blitz’ badly needed service coming in West Virginia

Hopefully, the heavy snow and extremely cold weather of January, February and early March are in the past.

Remnants of the harsh winter, though, remain. They’re faced each day by the state’s drivers.

Potholes have West Virginia’s roads in their worst condition in years, and the damaging freeze-thaw cycle is not over.

Help, though, is on the way, although it’s obviously going to take some time.

Call it the “pothole blitz.”

West Virginia’s Division of Highways is readying a multimillion-dollar plan to fill the potholes, which can do extensive damage to vehicles and create a safety hazard when motorists attempt to avoid them and move into the path of other vehicles.

“These potholes are the worst our maintenance crews have seen in years,” Carrie Bly, Department of Transportation spokeswoman, told the Charleston Daily Mail.

In early February, Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox met with senior officials in the state’s 10 highways districts to come up with a plan.

“Internally, we’ve called it a pothole blitz,” Bly said. “It’s our pothole plan of attack.”

Locally, those repairs are estimated to begin March 19. That’s when asphalt plants will open, explained Greg Phillips, an engineer in District 4 of the DOH, which includes Doddridge, Harrison, Marion, Monongalia, Preston and Taylor counties.

“There are more potholes out there because of the weather and ice,” Phillips said. “This is the worst year we have had (for potholes) in 10 years.”

District 4 will receive around $1.2 million for potholes, Phillips said, and its workers will face a huge job.

“We have 11,600 road miles with potholes,” Phillips said. “It’s like driving across the United States a few times.”

District 4 monitors the roads with local workers who report the road conditions to the district. Phillips knows there are thousands and thousands of potholes in each county in the district.

“We do not need people calling in (the location of potholes),” Phillips said. “We look at it as a big picture.”

Funding is in place across the state. The Charleston Daily Mail reported last week that senior transportation officials have gone back and reviewed the list of projects they had budgeted funds for this year. They identified $12 million worth of non-critical projects that could be delayed until next year and are now diverting that money strictly to fixing potholes. That’s on top of the money the department was already planning to spend on pothole repair this year.

In the last three years, the state has spent an average of $18 million a year on pothole repair.

Bly said the department had already spent $9 million on the program during the current fiscal year, which began July 1. The $12 million will be added to the remaining amount that had been budgeted this year. In addition to asphalt, that money can go toward paying overtime and renting additional equipment to conduct repairs.

Current repairs are cold patching, which lasts only about a week or two.

Full-scale work will begin as the weather warms and asphalt plants, which close in the winter, reopen.

“We’re hopeful we can get them open in the next couple of weeks before April and then, once they do, we can start using the hot mixes, and that can be a permanent fix,” Bly said.

It will also be a busy time for crews who take care of city streets.

The “pothole blitz” will be a welcome project as this harsh winter finally turns to spring.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • If something seems too good to be true, then assume that it is

    Scam. noun. A confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.
    This is a word that Marion Countians have heard a lot about in the past few years. And the problem appears to be one that is getting worse every day.

    July 31, 2014

  • State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core

    It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
    So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
    Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.

    July 30, 2014

  • Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway

    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.

    July 29, 2014

  • United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project

    The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
    That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.

    July 27, 2014

  • COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard

    I love to talk to readers.
    I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.

    July 27, 2014

  • Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial

    NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
    And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.

    July 25, 2014

  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads