The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

July 8, 2013

Future of highways

Public should attend meetings of blue-ribbon highways panel

— There’s no doubt that West Virginia’s interstate highway system opened the Mountain State to realize many benefits, beginning with its origin in 1957.

With easier travel, West Virginia became an even stronger link in the eastern United States, and Mid-Atlantic region.

The West Virginia Turnpike, which pre-dated the interstate system when its construction began in 1952, continues to play an important part in transportation in our region.

West Virginia is now a critical passageway for our nation, East-West and North-South, and our highways played a significant role in that.

And our roads will play a key role in the future as well.

That’s why the maintenance and upkeep for our existing roads, along with planning for new roads, is crucial.

A plan must be in place.

Federal dollars that were once there appear to be drying up.

So funding is a potential issue. We must get creative.

Our future demands that we address this issue.

And your input is welcomed.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has appointed a special blue-ribbon panel on highway needs. It will conduct a series of public sessions in nine strategic locations across the state, starting July 11.

Local meetings will be Aug. 12: in Princeton at 10 a.m. at the Days Inn, and in Beckley at 4 p.m. at the Mountaineer Conference Center. Each meeting is to take about three hours.

Other meetings on the agenda are July 16, Chief Logan State Park; July 18, Marshall University Alumni Hall; Aug. 1, Comfort Inn at Parkersburg; Aug. 8, Robert H. Mollohan Research Center in Fairmont; and Aug. 15, Days Inn at Elkins. A meeting in Charleston will tentatively be set at a later date.

We encourage our readers to get involved. Attend the meetings and find out as much information as you can about how your tax dollars are being spent.

Provide your feedback for the panel to consider.

“This is the intention of government — that we hear the public so they can help us with our decisions,” Jan Vineyard, chair of the legislative and public outreach committee, said last week.

West Virginia cannot afford to fall behind.

While the “information superhighway” is a “virtual” road to success for our state, without pavement and bridges to help transport our people and goods — progress will likely come to a standstill.

That’s one traffic jam we can’t afford to sit through.