There’s been a lot of talk in West Virginia this year about roads, yet there’s little talk about why the roads need to be repaired and maintained.

Scour the research and it becomes obvious after a few thousand pages that roads go hand in hand with economic development.

Some studies go as far as to say that roads are vital not only for economic development but are also vital for plain and simple individual prosperity.

When a community has access to driveable roads, its citizens can prosper. And when individuals prosper, so do communities.

A new highway can reduce a business’ costs to obtain materials and services, and, therefore, expand that business’ potential to enter new markets.

Roads are a vital part of economic development and job creation, and right now the state does not look like a place companies would want to invest in, much less create new jobs.

All it takes is one afternoon drive around anywhere in West Virginia and you’ll question who’s running the highway department. Why are the roads so bad? Where does the money go to fix the roads? Taxpayers everywhere should be asking these questions.

The state’s roads are riddled with patches and potholes so badly that motorists dare not venture out for fear of taking out their vehicle’s transmission or messing up their front end alignment.

Placing a patch over a pothole is like putting lipstick on a pig – it does a great coverup job but has little durability.

Our roads are a mess of bumpy asphalt and patches, which are just as dangerous as potholes. The current repair program looks like a poorly-executed half measure that definitely does not bring pride to the Mountain State, much less economic development.

While we applaud the Governor’s May 20 announcement about $98 million more to fix roads, that announcement feels like yet another half measure.

“Gov. Justice raised the Fiscal Year 2019 revenue estimate so that $54 million could be appropriated from the current-year revenue surplus and combined with $44 million moved from non-maintenance funds to provide the additional $98 million increase to maintenance funds for Fiscal Year 2019, which ends June 30. The Division of Highways will have the authority to roll over any unused maintenance funds from Fiscal Year 2019 to Fiscal Year 2020,” states a recent press release from the governor’s office.

Why should funding roads look like everybody in Charleston is playing a shell game with tax dollars collected off the backs of the working? Is this a classic tale of robbing Peter to pay Paul?

West Virginians deserve answers and action, not PR fluff. The governor spent an entire day last week launching the new ‘Almost Heaven’ tourism campaign.

This will do little to help tourism in West Virginia until we figure out how to properly fund and maintain roads.

It won't be ‘Almost Heaven’ until our roads look and feel safe again.