West Virginia

Infrastructure: Too early to celebrate uncompleted work | News, Sports, Jobs

In a truly unusual display of enthusiasm for the use of federal funds, the West Virginia Department of Transportation and the Department of Arts, Culture and History recently announced that they have collaborated on an exhibit at the State Culture Center in Charleston to mark the fifth anniversary of Roads to celebrate Prosperity initiative.

Yes, you read that correctly.

A few government agencies spent money on it “celebrate” the five-year mark since Mountain State voters voted to allow no more than $1.6 billion in bond issuance to improve highways and bridges, as well as build new roads. If you’re a) surprised it’s been five years and b) wondering where all this infrastructure improvement and prosperity is going, you’re not alone.

But bureaucrats will remain bureaucrats; and it is true that there has been some movement in necessary repairs and maintenance which have been postponed for far too many years due to alleged lack of funding.

“The exhibition shows the extent of the work in depth”, said Randall Reid-Smith, Commissioner for Arts, Culture and History. “I especially love the board showing the photos of the equipment and the way the Division of Highways employees have the equipment they need to do the job now.”

That’s correct. What we’re celebrating here, five years after approval, is that some workers now have the equipment to do the job that should have been done on the streets of West Virginia all along. Meanwhile it seems as if a “Ways to Prosperity” Almost every project is tagged, even if it is questionable whether the work is the result of this initiative.

WVDOT and the Ministry of Arts, Culture and History can rightly be proud of their collaboration and the work of their colleagues. But even in their own announcement of the exhibition, WVDOT framed as concrete achievements “Renewed commitment to the completion of the Coalfields Expressway”, and “a renewed pride in maintaining hundreds of miles of back roads.”

Come on now. “Obligation” and “Proud” are wonderful things, but we cannot ride on them.

While the new exhibit may be a pleasure to read, West Virginians will eagerly await the day when we really have reason to celebrate.

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