traffic cones

West Virginia Division of Highways crews will start paving a portion of Robert C. Byrd Drive this fall, starting at Coalfields Expressway and ending at Interstate 77 in Raleigh County, DOH District 10 Maintenance Engineer Joe Pack reported on Friday.

Pack said the paving is one of the bigger projects coming up in southern West Virginia before winter. 

“People are going to experience some traffic delays,” Pack cautioned. “We hope people understand. That’s part of the business.”

Crews have not yet set an official start date for paving Robert C. Byrd, but Pack said it will likely be “a month out.”

“It will be done at night and start at 7 p.m,” he said. “There will be impact to folks every day.”

He advised commuters to plan for delays and said smoother driving will make the slower traffic worth it.

State Department of Transportation officials on July 30 released a list of roads across the state which are the second wave of Gov. Jim Justice’s Secondary Roads Initiative projects.

“As we continue our evolution into a maintenance-first organization, Governor Justice asked that our Districts identify the maintenance projects – such as mowing, patching, paving, and more – to be completed by the end of the year,” Transportation Secretary Byrd White III said. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing these types of activities in an open and transparent manner, and I can promise you that Governor Justice is committed to making sure we have every resource we need to get this work done.”

The full list of new projects, scheduled to be completed by Dec. 31, may be viewed by county by going to www.transportation.wv.gov and clicking on Secondary Road Maintenance Initiative.

At the end of June, Pack reported, DOH crews had patched more than 40 percent of roads that were slated for patching on a list of projects Justice rolled out on July 20 and that District 10 crews had ditch-lined 46 percent of the slated miles, or 189 shoulder miles, of roadways. 

“We are always in a constant rollover of maintenance activities,” Pack added. “As soon as we come out of winter, we start our road maintenance.

“It’s a process that continues on ‘til the first snowflake falls.”

Crews had also patched 289 miles of roadway in Raleigh County as of June 30, adding that crews throughout District 10 — Raleigh, Mercer, Wyoming and McDowell — have patched most high-traffic county routes, U.S. routes and state routes.

“There are still several routes and miles and miles of road we intend to patch before the winter gets here,” he said.

On July 24, Justice reported that, since asphalt plants reopened this past spring, crews had paved more than 1,000 miles of fresh road and patched more than 7,000 miles’ worth of potholes statewide.

In Marshall County, crews had patched 358 miles’ worth of potholes, the most of any county in West Virginia. Additionally, road crews had repaired 21 slips in Marshall County – nearly double the number of slips repaired in any other county, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“I’m really proud of what these guys have done and ladies have done and the accomplishments are unbelievable,” Justice said. “But there’s still more to do and we still need to stay after it.”

On July 24, Justice also announced that each DOH district would receive a new Gradall excavator for road maintenance.

“These roads didn’t get this way overnight,” Justice said. “I don’t say this to beat up on anybody, but it’s fact. We neglected things for governorship after governorship and we got ourselves in one whale of a mess.

“Then, on top of all of that, we sold all of our equipment,” the governor added. “And I know good and well that our maintenance crews, no matter how hard they try, they can’t function without the best equipment.

“This machine right here, this is a do-all everything machine,” he said. “This, absolutely, is a machine that is so badly needed in our counties and our districts across the state, it’s unbelievable.”

The hydraulic excavators can be used for a wide range of road maintenance work – including asphalt or concrete repair, mass excavation, demolition, barrier placement, ditching, sloping, grading, bridge replacement, sidewalk replacement, tree and vegetation trimming, mowing, culvert replacement, guardrail cleanout, debris cleanup, and much more – which will allow DOH crews to fix more roads and do so more efficiently.

During a spring visit to Marshall County in the northern panhandle, Justice had promised to bring in more equipment and manpower to get the roads fixed once and for all, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Pack said District 10 has received its new Gradall and that the machine has made excavation and other work much simpler for DOH crews.

“The Gradall’s a rubber tire excavator, which is, basically, a one-person piece of equipment,” Pack explained. “Instead of having to take an excavator around and mount it on the trailer and haul it onto a truck, you drive the Gradall to the site.”

With a special attachment, it can help with tree trimming.

“It’s kind of an all-in-one piece of equipment,” he said.

Justice said on Aug. 1 that a total of 160 machines and vehicles have already been delivered throughout the state as part of the most recent wave of equipment purchases, with new items coming into the Equipment Division offices every day.

The event showcased dozens of new tandem and single-axle dump trucks, mowers, several Gradall hydraulic excavators, and more — a portion of the nearly 280 machines and vehicles that will be distributed to all 10 DOH Districts and in all 55 counties across West Virginia by this fall, according to Justice.

Pack said he is expecting a delivery of new equipment that Justice had showcased in Buckhannon on Aug. 1. 

“We’ve got a lot of stuff coming that will help us have more equipment to get the work done,” he said. 

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