West Virginia Commissioner of Highways and Secretary of Transportation Thomas J. Smith told Beckley Rotarians Tuesday over the span of Gov. Jim Justice’s four-year term, around 40 road projects will be completed within Road to Prosperity, the centerpiece of Justice’s economic recovery plan for the state.
Smith said Justice’s program is $2.8 billion in size, but that number will grow with additional funding and knowledge.
He called Justice’s program “pretty simple,” and said it was a goal to find three different sources of revenue and sell state bonds out as much as possible.
“We have been proud to offer you all the opportunity to bring projects forward to us,” Smith said. “Suddenly the number of dollars associated with projects was well over $3 billion.”
“We’re proud to call that a candidate list of projects because we really want to do what’s right for the citizens of West Virginia.”
Smith said Justice had three different “pots” of money for different sets of projects in his program; the first being using existing federal aid funds to push bridge and interstate reconstruction projects.
The Department of Highways and Transportation receives $450 million a year, Smith said, and the department had a limit of $200 million they were able to sell out in bonds. The state legislature then gave the department a new limit of $500 million, which he said they are using to push bridge and interstate reconstruction as quickly as possible.
Smith said in October, the state had the biggest levy in its history for transportation, a total of $260 million. This allowed for a revenue for 18 significant bridge replacements and 13 interstate reconstruction projects.
Interstate construction consists of no longer just resurfacing the interstate, but taking the surface out and rebuilding it.
Smith said over the last 10 years, the state has completed…