Pothole claims prove our point: Road conditions in Monongalia, Preston continue to show we own the worst ones

You want more proof our roads are some of the worst in the state?
This week our newspaper published some numbers regarding pothole claims against the state.
About 10 weeks into this year the West Virginia Legislative Claims Commission reports almost 400 claims were filed for damage to vehicles from potholes.
More than 70 of those claims were from Monongalia and Preston counties. That’s nearly 18 percent of all the claims filed in the state.
If two counties out of 55 in our state account for 18 percent of pothole claims that’s a sure sign that we may not have  a  monopoly on them, but we have bragging rights. But it’s nothing to celebrate.
For a year’s worth of such data we need look no further than 2018 when 247 of 1,725 claims were from Monongalia and Preston. That’s a little shy of 15 percent.
In 2017, these two counties owned 105 of 751 such claims — about 14 percent statewide.
Though some may want to believe this growing number of claims is the result of growing public interest in the issue of dangerous roads, we beg to differ.
The growing number of claims is the direct result of those increasingly hazardous roads and the continued lack of maintenance or repair of them, especially in our region.
Our newspaper has published countless articles, photos, editorials and letters to the editor about horrendous road conditions for the past decade.
And the only result that we can attest to during that time is that road conditions have only gotten worse.
One often-repeated accusation was District 4 was being shortchanged in its funding allocation for maintenance.
In January, according to a state Division of Highways audit from 2009-’17, the state allocation for maintenance only increased by 14.22 percent.
It was a mere 8.6 percent increase for District 4, which encompasses Monongalia and Preston counties.
About a year ago, Preston County in frustration declared a state of emergency as a result of its road conditions.
The North Central Road Caucus also emerged out of Preston County, which includes all six counties in District 4, to speak with one voice about our roads.
This is not some issue that the public or some legislators just discovered this year. Indeed, it’s one the Legislature and different administrations ignored for years.
Our road conditions are living proof what years’ of neglect and disrepair can do to a community’s infrastructure and its residents vehicles.
The lengthy, convoluted process to seek reimbursement for damage to vehicles as a result of pothole damage is also unacceptable. But it only looks to be just some more salt in the wound.

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