— Joe Manchin, the Democratic governor of West Virginia, said Wednesday that he will support a bill that would expand transportation management and technology to provide the state with more resources for its transportation system.
The plan calls for a $2.4 billion transportation plan that would be implemented in 2019.
“I think it’s time for West Virginia to have the transportation system that it needs,” Manchin said.
West Virginia already has one of the nation’s most robust transportation systems, but that doesn’t mean it can always rely on highways and mass transit to get around.
That’s where West Virginia’s transportation managers and technologies come in, according to Manchin.
Instead of relying on the federal government for transportation dollars, Manchin’s proposal would require the state to build new bridges and tunnels and pay for those costs out of a dedicated revenue fund.
He said the money would come from the state’s General Fund, which he described as a “fund for things that the state should do.”
“What you’re saying is the money that we spend on our highways and our bridges, that money should come from us instead of being transferred to the federal or state governments, where you don’t know how much they’re spending,” Manchins said.
The proposal would create an Advanced Transportation Management Center (ATMC), which would be part of a broader regional transportation system with a statewide, state and local level.
Manchins office says the ATMC would help West Virginia meet its needs for more than $4 billion in infrastructure investments.
Its staff would include a director, two deputy directors, two engineers and two project managers.
It would also create a Regional Transportation Advisory Board, which would have a full-time executive director, a vice president and a fulltime director.
Manchin said the ATCC would be the backbone of a regional transportation plan for the state, which will be released later this year.
This isn’t the first time West Virginia has seen its transportation plans evolve over the years.
In 2012, West Virginia was looking to hire a new transportation director, but the agency had already hired a transportation expert and a consultant.
A new transportation expert, John R. Anderson, was hired in 2013 to help the agency develop its own transportation plan.
Last year, West Virginians celebrated the state having been awarded the largest transportation infrastructure investment in U.S. history by the U.N. and the U,S. Congress.