Fees, taxes and tolls increased to fund road projects in West Virginia

West Virginia- In June 2017, the West Virginia Legislature passed a series of bills raising wholesale fuel taxes, raising the sales tax of vehicles, increasing fees for documents and transactions at the Division of Motor Vehicles, raising tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike and creating tolls on other state highways. This increase in fees will fund the state’s $2.8 billion road construction and maintenance program. The tax increases are projected to fund $500 million of construction fees, an additional $500 million will come from federal Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle bonds and the remaining $1.8 billion is contingent on state residents passing a constitutional amendment on Oct. 7 allowing the state to apply for additional bonds.

The project will likely be broken into two phases with $65 million worth of funds dedicated to adding lanes to Interstate 64, $65.5 million to widen Jefferson Road, $170 million to widen Interstate 64, and $150 million to improving U.S. 52. Gov. Jim Justice anticipates that the project will generate 48,000 jobs in the state based on a 2014 study out of Duke University that correlates $1 billion worth of federal spending on road investment with 21,671 jobs. While many people are skeptical of this job figure, and not all of the anticipated jobs are strictly construction, there is concern about having enough qualified construction workers to staff the project. Justice along with union officials recently announced an apprenticeship program to train workers in preparation for the roads project so that the state can move forward with the much anticipated project.