‘Roads to Prosperity’ celebrates 5 years, more than 1,200 projects

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Roads to Prosperity highway and bridge construction and maintenance program and the anniversary is celebrated at the State Culture Center in Charleston

Jimmy Wrist

Governor Jim Justice and the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) rolled out the $2.8 billion statewide plan in October 2017. It was the largest infrastructure investment in the history of Mountain State.

The Cultural Center exhibition, announced on Monday, highlights the 1,263 projects carried out under the program.

“The exhibition shows the breadth of the work, in depth,” said Randall Reid-Smith, curator of arts, culture and history, in a statement released Monday. “I especially like the sign that shows pictures of the equipment and how the Highways Division employees have the equipment they need now to get the job done.”

Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston said the DOH works with Culture and History on every freeway project for historical, cultural, and archaeological review before it can move forward.

Cultural change

Wriston also said Monday that the Roads to Prosperity program has helped change the culture at DOT.

“Accountability and transparency were no longer buzzwords and now it’s a way of life and we tried to bring that down to the very levels where things happen,” Wriston said in a published podcast. Monday. “The big picture is that we have revitalized the DOT.”

The program uses data and figures to determine the best use of construction and/or maintenance funds. The method is a departure from what Wriston called “a five-year plan based on policy, not results.”

“Part of what we’ve done in this revitalization is we’ve become results-driven,” Wriston said. “Nobody wants to hear about us working hard, nobody wants to hear about us trying hard – they want results and they have expectations there.”

Roads to Prosperity is credited with the construction and rehabilitation of 26 different sets of bridges on Interstate 70 around Wheeling, continued progress on the Appalachian H Corridor, renewed commitment to the completion of the Coalfields Freeway , a new pride in maintaining hundreds of kilometers of secondary roads.

“West Virginia is one of the few places where we actually measure distance over time, it takes 30 minutes to get here, it takes an hour to get to Charleston from Beckley,” Wriston said. “So when you shorten that time, you’re giving people time back, and the most valuable gift you can give someone is time.”

“We’re no longer doing business at the speed of government, we’re doing business at the speed of ‘us’ and that makes a big difference,” Wrsiton said. “We are responsive, our people care. they really care about doing a good job.

At the invitation of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore-Capito Wriston became the first senior West Virginia Department of Transportation official to testify before lawmakers in Washington. Wriston said this opportunity continues to yield benefits.

“Just last week I got calls from some of these federal agencies and met with our local FHWA folks,” Wriston said. “We all want the same thing, we want the best infrastructure in the world and that’s how we get it, communicating and working together.”

James C. Tibbs