MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va. In an effort to relieve some of the core maintenance work load for state Department of Highways workers, bids have been received to complete ditching in Monongalia, Preston, and Harrison Counties, according to Senator Mike Oliverio, R. Monongalia.

The apparent low bidder for the work in Monongalia County is Anderson Excavating LLC at $2,272,581.60. The project scope is to complete core maintenance ditching on one-third of the roads in the county this year, consistent with DOH policy to complete all ditching in the county on a three-year cycle.

“They simply haven’t been able to hire the number of employees they’re authorized to have,” Oliverio said. “So, some of the savings from not hiring employees are used by private companies.”

CEO of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, Jason Pizatella, said the DOH has shifted to a maintenance-first organization under the Justice administration, putting a greater burden on the state workforce.

“We think there might be a trend toward using contractors for some of the maintenance work in some counties in West Virginia where the DOH is having a hard time keeping full-time employees,” Pizatella said.

Oliverio has long called for a public-private partnership to address these core maintenance issues, and this deal will allow more time for state workers to mow, sweep, clean medians, and remove debris. Local officials have been embarrassed by the conditions people see when they attend a sporting event, a WVU campus visit, or a job interview.

“Our existing state employees at the DOH will be able to work on pot holes, stabilizing roads, repairing slips, and mowing,” Oliverio said. “The kinds of things to keep our county looking a lot better and taking care of our roads better.”

DOH officials, elected leaders, and members of the public will be watching and comparing results from previous years, looking for improvement. Oliverio hopes the program will show enough value and productivity that it will become “business as usual.”

“We need help from the private sector, and what better place to get help than Monongalia County, where we have contractors and companies that have trucks and resources?” Oliverio said.

Properly maintained ditches allow moisture to quickly exit the area of the roadbed, extending the life of the pavement. Water on the pavement edges will push and heave with the change of seasons, quickly causing failure.

“We know water is the greatest enemy to our roads, and to the extent we can get the ditching done properly, water will stay off of the roads and maintain the life of the road surface longer,” Oliverio said.