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Government

Bridge Rehabilitation And Completing Corridors Are W.Va. Transportation Priorities

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Perry Bennett
/
West Virginia Legislative Photography
Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston addresses joint legislative transportation commission

Bridge rehabilitation, unfinished corridors and electric charging stations highlight how the West Virginia Department of Transportation plans to use some of the federal infrastructure funds.

Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston explained to the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on Department of Transportation Accountability how the state will spend some of the $3 billion coming from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act at a legislative interim meeting Sunday.

Wriston said more than $45 million will help set up electric car charging stations along the interstates. He said this could be a public/private partnership project.

Wriston also allotted $548 million for bridge rehabilitation. Funding includes both state and non-state owned bridges. Wriston said while state-owned bridge rehabilitation funding designates an 80-20 percent federal/state split, non-state owned bridge projects will be 100 percent funded by federal dollars.

“We think we can really leverage that and make a big difference for a lot of municipalities,” Wriston said. “Especially since they won’t have to come up with a match to replace, repair or rehabilitate some of these structures.”

Wriston said $200 million will be dedicated to finishing the Corridor H project, a four lane highway that runs from Weston to the Virginia line, connecting with I-81.

“I think it’s safe to say regarding the end of construction on Corridor H, that the end is in sight,” Wriston said.

Wriston said other road building priorities include the King Coal Highway, a 95-mile stretch through McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Wyoming, and Wayne counties, and the Coalfields Expressway, a multi-lane highway connecting the West Virginia Turnpike at Beckley with U.S. 23 at Slate, Va.

Wrtiston told commission members that purchasing construction equipment looms as one of the Department of Transportation’s biggest challenges. He said inflation and supply chain issues have stymied availability. For example, Wriston said an order for 120 new trucks is not expected to be delivered until August, 2023. He worries that challenges in obtaining new equipment and parts may get worse before they get better.

“We will slide back as a department if something doesn’t change soon.” Wriston said.


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