Gov. Justice urges safe driving in Work Zones as state begins massive 2023 highway construction season

2023 Statewide Paving Program announced; online project map unveiled 
CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice held an event today at the State Capitol to kick off  the 2023 highway construction season and remind drivers to slow down and pay attention in work zones.

The Governor was joined by state and federal officials, as well as a representative from the West Virginia Contractors Association. 

“Today in West Virginia, on every street corner, we’ve got orange cones, workers everywhere, and the roads are improved,” Gov. Justice said. “Now, Is it too much to ask that workers deserve to be able to get their dinner bucket, go to work, and deserve to go home safely? It only takes one wrong turn, and we have a catastrophe. I’m 100% supportive of our Work Zone Safety campaign, because lives are on the line.”
On October 7, 2017, West Virginia voters passed the historic Roads to Prosperity road bond plan. Since passage, 1,134 of the 1,266 projects funded through Roads to Prosperity have been completed, with 65 currently under construction.

“Without the Governor’s bold vision for Roads to Prosperity, we wouldn’t just be struggling to complete these projects, we wouldn’t be doing these projects at all,” Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston, P.E. said. “This big, bold vision the Governor brought to us saved the Division of Highways and saved the future of transportation in the Mountain State. This puts us on the path to succeed.”

Five Roads to Prosperity projects are scheduled to begin construction this season, including the replacement of two rural bridges. Funding through Roads to Prosperity has allowed the WVDOH to replace dozens of smaller rural bridges around the state that might have taken years to address otherwise.
Contractors are already on the job to replace the Philip Run Bridge in Calhoun County. Construction is also expected to begin this season to replace the Middle Fork Bridge in Grant County and the bridge at Hedgesville High School in Berkeley County.

Roads to Prosperity money will also completely repave Henry Camp Road in Pleasants County, and Liverpool Road in Roane County this construction season.

Contractors will also soon begin on a $15.3 million Roads to Prosperity project to repair concrete, seal and completely repave a five-mile stretch of Interstate 64 in Raleigh County from Airport Road to the Glade Creek Bridge.

This year, WVDOH has scheduled 126 paving projects statewide, in all 55 counties. Over 260 total miles of highway to be resurfaced. Total investment is $290 million. 
Gov. Justice and Secretary Wriston also unveiled the WVDOT’s 2023 Statewide Interactive Roadwork Map, marking the fifth year that West Virginians will be able to access this online tool and see what roads near them are scheduled to be improved this year.

The map also provides real-time statistics on how much roadwork has been completed across a variety of categories, including Gov. Justice’s Secondary Roads Maintenance initiative and Roads To Prosperity program.
But big ideas come with big needs for equipment, resources, and most of all, people.

“We have a lot of contractors in the Contractor’s Association of West Virginia that are second and third-generation owned,” Executive Director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia Jason Pizatella said. “I had one tell me that if he could hire 100 people tomorrow, he would hire them. With all the pieces of federal and state funding coming through West Virginia in the next five years, there are going to be a lot of projects. It’s going to be a busy time for West Virginia!”

When Gov. Justice took office, he vowed to do something to fix West Virginia’s roads and put thousands of people to work. Gov. Justice called for a massive series of road bonds to raise the money needed for the largest investment in road construction and repair in the state’s history.

The program also freed up millions of additional dollars that the WVDOT has been able to put back into the smaller roads across West Virginia through the Governor’s Secondary Roads Maintenance Initiative.

Since March 2019, when Gov. Justice directed WVDOT leaders to make road maintenance its top priority, the WVDOT has completed more than $1.2 billion in highway maintenance projects, including patching on nearly 89,000 miles of roadway, more than 34,000 miles of ditching, and over 190,000 miles of mowing along the state’s highways.

In that time, the WVDOT has paved more than 6,015 miles of roads with fresh, smooth blacktop.

“From the big, regionally significant projects to our secondary roads, it’s all important and it’s what our citizens deserve,” Wriston said. “Projects like the I-70 bridges in Wheeling, Coalfields Expressway, and Corridor H, I don’t know how long those would have taken to get done, we would have no end in sight.”
Roads to Prosperity, combined with the other state and federally funded highways projects coming down the pike, have created a huge demand for labor in the Mountain State.

Roads to Prosperity has also allowed WVDOT to place a renewed emphasis on basic roadway maintenance.

“In 2019, I got our DOH together and told them to focus on maintenance first,” Gov. Justice said. “That year, they did more roadwork than any year on record in West Virginia history! In 2020 and 2021, they broke the record again. And in 2022, they did it again!” 

During 2023, WVDOT plans to:Ditch a total of 10,477 miles of roadway.Mow 70,400 miles of roadway.Stabilize 16,412 miles of roadway. More than 26,500 miles of roadway will be reviewed for pothole patching in 2023.
With all this work going on in all corners of the state, WVDOT urges drivers to use caution in work zones. In 2022, there were 800 crashes in West Virginia work zones, killing eight people and injuring 276. All crashes were avoidable.
“Our citizens, our drivers, our roadway users are just as responsible as we are,” Wriston said. “We need to give them every possible way to be able to follow these rules. We need to give them every possible way to be able to follow these rules. We need to give them clear directions through these work zones. We can do that and we’re going to.””We’re here today to make people abide by work zone speed limits, and excuses will not be accepted,” West Virginia State Trooper Sumner Brody said. “If you’re pulled over in one of our work zones, you can expect a citation. You need to slow down and abide by our work zone speed limits. Put your phone down. Leave it in your console. Don’t be texting or distracted driving. You will be pulled over. You will be cited. You will be subject to double fines. You will be subject to double points, and that could lead to you losing your driver’s license. We’re taking this very, very seriously.””We’re all here today because we want to save lives,” Transportation Enforcement Officer at Public Service Commission of West Virginia Matthew Epling said. “We are all always in a hurry, but saving a little time is never worth another person’s life. The West Virginia Public Service Commission and other agencies have posted extra patrols in high-traffic construction zones. Rear-end crashes are common in construction zones. We also have to remember large trucks have blind spots and require extra distance to stop. So be mindful of those large trucks as you operate through construction zones. Don’t wait until the last moment to merge. We want to encourage drivers to drive responsibly, but remember that we will be out there and issuing citations.””Work zones play a critical role in upgrading and maintaining our nation’s roadways,” Deputy Division Administrator for the Federal Highway Division in West Virginia John Rogers said. “The new Inflation Reduction Act laws have provided a lot of funding to improve roads, resources, and opportunities for states like West Virginia, improving the safety and mobility of all users and helping us strive for Vision Zero.”
Today, the Governor also unveiled a new West Virginia Fallen Worker Memorial that will be placed at the state’s seven Welcome Centers. Bearing the names of the 58 workers who have been killed in work zones in West Virginia. The memorial reminds drivers to slow down and avoid distracted driving so that everyone goes home safe at the end of the day.