CHARLESTON - As West Virginia's roads remain under construction under a new secretary, the West Virginia Department of Transportation also has one other thing to repair - the people's trust.
"For everybody that's listening and everybody around the state, what would you say to us that would begin to restore confidence in the department?" Del. David Kelly, R-Tyler, asked DOT Secretary Byrd White on Tuesday during a joint committee meeting of Infrastructure and Transportation Accountability.
"Transparency," White said. "We are going to be as transparent as we can."
White said by Monday the list of projects through the end of the year will be up on the DOT website, and they will continue to make as much information available as possible.
"The only thing I won't tell you is something I don't know," he said.
White said they also have to work to change the culture of DOT. Del. Tom Fast, R-Fayette, questioned why "throw and go" patching was still occurring in his county, which just "turns a hole into a bump," while patches in Wyoming County are "smooth sailing." White said "throw and go" patching should not be happening and said he would like to personally see where it has occurred, to which Fast spit out roads with new patch jobs.
Legislators also questioned White on perceived discrepancies in funding and work done in counties. Marshall County delegates wondered why they are receiving less funding when they have some of the most road slips in the state, while delegates like Fast questioned why a neighboring county would have so much more work completed than another.
As for funding, White said part of the discrepancy is with the formula the DOT uses. With new funding just allocated, if a county already had funds near what the formula would give it, that county only got a little bit of new funding. But other counties were much further away from the formula number, so they received more money.
White also clarified reports that "promised projects" weren't actually promises. Earlier this summer, an Ohio news station that covers the Northern Panhandle reported the state promised certain projects but much more road bond funding has been used in the southern portion of the state. White said the projects the report referred to weren't promised, but was instead just a list of things the state knows needs done.
As time ran out, Sen. Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, chairman, asked legislators to send him their questions, which he would forward to White before the next committee meeting so he had time to prepare.
White also gave a maintenance update from April through the end of June. During that time statewide, 7,174 miles of road were patched; 4,678 miles were ditched; 2,812 miles of unpaved road was restored; 48,918 feet of pipe was laid; 193 slips were repaired; and 982 lane miles were paved.
In District 2, which includes Cabell, Wayne, Logan, Lincoln and Mingo counties, 83 lane miles were paved, 1,392 miles were patched and 36 slips were repaired. Cabell County had 10 slips repaired, 25.5 lane miles paved and 336 miles patched.
So far no road bond money has been used for maintenance, but White said they still plan to. In this first round of bonds, two major projects - the St. Albans-Nitro bridge and the Wheeling bridge - still need to be rebid, which is happening in August. The road bond funds will still need to be used for long-term projects, but White said they consider slip repair, among other repairs, as long term.
Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.