State DOH to open bids on emergency project

CHARLESTON, W.Va–The state Division of Highways will open bids Tuesday on an emergency project that calls for the repaving of 20 miles of Interstate 77 in Kanawha and Jackson counties.

State Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox told a group of state lawmakers Monday he’s never seen anything quite like it in his 31 years as a civil engineer.

“We basically had 15 to 20 miles that came apart at the seams,” Mattox said. “The longitude seams on that highway were so disintegrated, the potholes got so deep, that we had to close down (the interstate) for safety reasons.”

Mattox said the DOH has had to reshuffle its interstate paving program to pay for the work. He said there were no previous plans to repave that long section of I-77.

Mattox also told lawmakers the DOH has $250 million going into highway paving in the next budget year. He said that will keep the state at a 25-year paving cycle. He said they should have a 12-year cycle.

“We have to figure out ways to see how we can make our pavement life last longer,” he told lawmakers. “We are investing more and more of our financial resources on paving preservation projects. You’re going to see more and more of that in West Virginia.”

Mattox said state revenues for highways are up more than $27 million this fiscal year. He said the agency is also refinancing some road bonds that were obtained during the Underwood administration.