Touting his $2.8 billion Roads Building plan and how it will rescue West Virginia’s dying economy, Governor Jim Justice spoke last week to more than 200 contractors, engineers, architects and others during the opening of the annual West Virginia Construction and Design EXPO at the Charleston Civic Center.
“We’ve got to do something to get out of the ditch we’re in,” Governor Justice said. “My roads plan is the pathway to prosperity for Wet Virginia. We are talking about 48,000 jobs, good jobs, instantly. Once we get started, it will open up our state to real progress … tourism will explode. I’m tired of being 50th and if we don’t do something about it right now, we’re going to die 50th. We’re better than that in West Virginia.”
Governor Justice added, “Again, this transportation building plan is going to put tens of thousands of West Virginians to work immediately. The payroll taxes alone that will be generated come to greater than $250 million. That doesn’t even take into account the multiplier effect.”
Continuing, the Governor stated, “You have to believe me when I tell you we are on the cusp of catastrophe if we keep kicking these problems down the road. If we don’t move prudently and move now, this will spiral out of control and we won’t ever be able to fix it.”
Governor Justice went on to say that Senate Finance Chairman Mike Hall and House Finance Chairman Eric Nelson recognize the severity of the state’s fiscal crisis and that “they get it; they understand it”.
Michael Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, said his group that represents 450 companies that employ more than 20,000, is on board with what the Governor is trying to do to jumpstart road and bridge construction and maintenance in the Mountain State.
“Governor Justice has put forth an aggressive plan to invest in West Virginia’s transportation system” said Clowser. “His proposals will provide immediate improvement to West Virginia’s highways and bridges which have reached a critical state of disrepair.”
Clowser concluded, “The Governor’s plan will also provide an immediate benefit through job creation and economic growth. Another compelling argument is safety. West Virginia’s fatality rate on rural roads is three times higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state. Every surrounding state has invested in their highway program. We are pleased Governor Justice is doing the same for West Virginia.”