Civil engineering group gives West Virginia “D” on infrastructure report card

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The West Virginia Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave West Virginia’s infrastructure a grade of “D” Wednesday in the Section’s first report card on the states roads, bridges, drinking water, dams, and wastewater.

The civil engineering group gave the state a “D” in all five categories. A grade of “D” means the state’s infrastructure is in poor condition, with many elements nearing the end of their service life.

“As an engineer and someone who has spent his entire career around the construction industry, I recognize how vital it is to invest in America’s infrastructure,” said Rep. David McKinley. “Rebuilding our roads, bridges, and water lines will help revitalize our economy and put people back to work. Both at a federal and state level, we have an obligation to prioritize our infrastructure.”

The group’s report found that, of the state’s 7,291 bridges, 21 percent are rated as structurally deficient, the second-highest in the nation. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), replacing, widening, strengthening, and repairing those bridges will cost an estimated $2.9 billion.

The report said the state’s roadways are in similar condition, with 29 percent of West Virginia’s major roads in poor condition, compared to 21 percent nationally. According to TRIP, the National Transportation Research Group, driving those roads costs West Virginia drivers approximately $758 million in operating costs per year or about $647 per driver.

Dams across the state have suffered from deferred maintenance, the report said. Three quarters (75 percent) of the state’s dams are classified as high-hazard potential, meaning failure would likely result in significant economic loss, as well as loss of life.

And lastly, West Virginia’s drinking water and wastewater needs are significant, the report indicated. The group said that the state’s decreasing population results in less revenue for the two sectors, resulting in fewer customers covering the costs associated with maintaining facilities.

The report recommended creating bond programs for funding water and wastewater systems, appropriating funding for the West Virginia Dam Safety Rehabilitation Revolving Fund program to fix dams across the state, and increasing investments in the transportation sector.