MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Members of the Monongalia County Commission are encouraged by the addition of a state Department of Highways (DOH) employee to address local road maintenance issues.

On WAJR’s “Talk of the Town,” Commissioner Tom Bloom said that employee, J. David Vaughn was on Owl Creek Road assessing some serious and urgent repairs that needed to be done.

“He has the energy, like I do, that we want to get things done,” Bloom said. “All we ask is that people be realistic; it’s not going to change overnight.”

The commission is now working to formulate a plan to address short- and long-term objectives. So, Bloom said it’s not likely you’ll see every pothole in every alley filled, but with time, motorists will see real improvements in gateway areas and major thoroughfares.

“Fixing our infrastructure within the next three to five years, and what that means is that you need some sort of plan, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Bloom said. “You have to keep the core maintenance, but you have to do these other things, and that means you have to think outside the box.”

Early conversations between Bloom and Vaughn indicate there is a lot of work to do. Vaughn expressed shock when he saw some of the local conditions, according to Bloom.

“We are looking at 857 (Green Bag Road), Don Knotts Boulevard, Brockway Avenue, and of course the worst area I’ve ever seen, which is at the end of Brockway Avenue at Walnut Street.”

The plan has been years in the making and gained momentum when Senator Mike Oliverio, R, Monongalia, began meeting with local leaders. Along with the cooperation of DOH District 4 Engineer Mike Daley, $2.2 million surplus money due to low staffing was shifted to a private contractor, Anderson Excavating LLC to complete ditching as part of core maintenance.

“The work ahead is not going to be easy, but I’m sure our local folks are going to be up to the task,” Bloom said. “The key is that we’re now working together, and that’s been the theme all along that we haven’t had.”

Bloom quipped that the change in approach could be due to the upcoming election, but the addition of Vaughn furthers the opportunity to improve road conditions. The improvements come at an important time time in terms of economic development with the recent addition of Mountaintop Beverage, increased access to the Morgantown Industrial Park, and growth west of I-79.

“I think they are realizing we are the economic engine,” Bloom said. “And I’m sure there are businesses coming in and saying we would love to come to Mon County, but what’s with the roads? What about the infrastructure?”