Driving a flatbed tractor-trailer, Gov. Jim Justice personally hauled a brand new Gradall excavator – a top-of-the-line machine for road maintenance – to the Division of Highways’ District 6 Headquarters in Moundsville on Wednesday.
The special delivery marked the first of 10 new Gradall machines that Gov. Justice announced will soon be coming to all corners of the state, as part of his commitment to provide more resources to fix West Virginia’s secondary road system.
“These roads didn’t get this way overnight,” Gov. Justice said. “I don’t say this to beat up on anybody, but it’s fact; we neglected things for governorship after governorship and we got ourselves in one whale of a mess. Then, on top of all of that, we sold all of our equipment. And I know good and well that our maintenance crews, no matter how hard they try, they can’t function without the best equipment.
“This machine right here, this is a do-all everything machine,” Gov. Justice continued. “This, absolutely, is a machine that is so badly needed in our counties and our districts across the state, it’s unbelievable.”
The DOH’s 10 districts across the state will each receive one of the new Gradalls.
The hydraulic excavators can be used for a wide range of road maintenance work – including asphalt or concrete repair, mass excavation, demolition, barrier placement, ditching, sloping, grading, bridge replacement, sidewalk replacement, tree and vegetation trimming, mowing, culvert replacement, guardrail cleanout, debris cleanup, and much more – which will allow DOH crews to fix more roads and do so more efficiently.
During previous visits to Marshall County in the spring, Gov. Justice promised to bring in more equipment and manpower to get the roads fixed once and for all.
“I told you I wasn’t going to run away and I haven’t run away,” Gov. Justice said. “I’ve done what I said I’d do and that’s what I pride myself the most in.”
During Wednesday’s event, the Governor also provided an update on the amount of secondary roadwork that has been completed in the four months since he directed the DOH to make maintenance its top priority.
Since asphalt plants reopened this spring, crews have paved more than 1,000 miles of fresh road and patched more than 7,000 miles-worth of potholes statewide.
In Marshall County, specifically, crews have patched 358 miles-worth of potholes, the most of any county in West Virginia. Additionally, road crews have repaired 21 slips in Marshall County – nearly double the number of slips repaired in any other county.
“I’m really proud of what these guys have done and ladies have done and the accomplishments are unbelievable,” Gov. Justice said. “But there’s still more to do and we still need to stay after it.”