CHARLESTON, WV – As West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) kicks off an aggressive paving summer, counties who have long felt overlooked for paving and road maintenance projects are reaping the benefits of a statewide common sense approach.
Take Mason County, for example, where Pond Gap, Gibbstown Road, Bud Chetten Road, four projects on WV 2, and two projects on Ashton Upland Road have already been paved in a season which has just begun.
“West Virginia has 55 counties, we’re dedicated to consistent work in all 55,” said WVDOH District 1 Manager Arlie Matney. “In counties like Mason we’re striving to get ahead, and we’ve picked some roads that might not have been paved for 15 years.”
In the spring of 2019, Governor Jim Justice met with County Administrators from each county and asked them a question; what resources do you need? All levels of management, from Secretary of Transportation Jimmy Wriston to Crew Chiefs on the ground worked together to implement common sense best practices based on the concept of taking care of the workers, so the workers can take care of the roads. Three years later, the results are showing.
By the middle of June, the WVDOH had paved 375 linear miles of roadway throughout the Mountain State utilizing paving contractors. WVDOH paving crews have paved an additional 125 miles of backroads using the division’s own paving machines. Paving with WVDOH’s own crews does not replace the work of contractors, but adds to it to cover more miles more quickly.
“Employees come to work wanting to do a good job,” said Matney. “If we teach every new employee to do it right, they won’t know how to do it wrong.”
Preparation before paving makes the roadway surfaces last. Ditching, drainage and tree canopy clearing keeps the water off the roads and allows sunlight to reach the pavement; preventing potholes. When potholes have formed, proper milling and filling results in smooth, square patches that last longer than the jagged edged throw-and-go methods. Even roads that are scheduled to be paved are patched properly beforehand.
“That might not seem to make sense,” Matney said. “But if we pave over a hole in the road, the hole is still there and will come back through. We need to fill those potholes first to create a smooth, long-lasting surface.”
In the summer of 2022, WVDOH is reminding drivers that work zones will be popping up on all types of roads. From the core maintenance work, to paving with WVDOH crews, and contractors, to major highway and bridge projects, drivers should be aware that conditions in work zones can change quickly. Law enforcement will be stopping and ticketing speeding and distracted drivers. Keep each other safe.