West Virginia to Act Quickly on Funding Road and Bridge Projects
Fresh off a resounding endorsement of a $1.6 billion road bond referendum, West Virginia transportation officials are now strategizing how those funds, along with other recently approved revenue sources, will be put to work.
The road bonds, approved by 73% of voters in an Oct. 7 special election, make up more than half of a $2.8 billion transportation funding initiative proposed earlier this year by Gov. Jim Justice (R). Plans call for selling the bonds in phases to support major infrastructure projects such as the is major rehabilitation and replacement of the I-70 Ohio River Bridge at Wheeling and I-64 bridges across the Kanawha River at Nitro, and across the New River near Beckley.
In June, the state legislature authorized $140 million to be spent annually for debt service on the bonds
Another component of the state’s road funding strategy—approximately $260 million of federally financed GARVEE bonds—are expected to be available by the end of October, according to information provided at a legislative briefing. Those funds will be directed to 13 interstate reconstruction projects, including a $58.6 million pavement rehab assignment along I-64 near Huntington, and three separate I-79 corridor pavement rehabilitation jobs totaling $53.2 million in Braxton County.
Eighteen bridge replacements are also slated to receive GARVEE bond funding. They include the $16 million McDonald Upper Plaza project in Marshall County, and the $2.28 million Sandyville Bridge in Jackson County.
West Virginia could sell as much as $300 million in an additional GARVEE bonds under legislation enacted this past summer. During that session, lawmakers approved toll increases on the West Virginia Turnpike that are expected to support up to $500 million of bonds that will be directed to primary and secondary road and bridge projects in the state’s southwest counties. The first $100 million of those bonds are expected to be issued in Spring 2019.