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State Road Fund to fall by $8.5M

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Legislators have been down this road before: Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox said Thursday that West Virginia Road Fund revenues will be flat through 2018, as revenue from the primary funding source, the state gas tax, is projected to decline slightly over time.

Meanwhile, West Virginia is losing $35 million a year in federal aid for road construction, and Mattox noted, "It's not looking very bright in the federal government for any additional highway funds."

Overall, the Division of Highways' 2013-14 state Road Fund will fall $8.5 million from the current year, Mattox told the Senate Finance Committee.

Committee Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said the Senate is looking forward to the recommendations of the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways, which is looking at ways to come up with an estimated $1.3 billion of additional annual funding to complete and adequately maintain the state road system.

Also Thursday:

• Sen. Doug Facemire, D-Braxton, said he's concerned about the impact on commercial air service in the state if federal budget sequestration forces the Federal Aviation Administration to eliminate air traffic controllers at five of the state's airports.

"It looks like every airport but Charleston would be in trouble," he said. "Without a tower, you can't have commercial air service."

Susan Chernenko, director of the state Aeronautics Commission, said there probably will not be a definitive decision by the FAA for at least another week.

She said FAA regulations permit private contractors to operate airport control towers, but said that would not be a workable solution, since that would shift liability from the FAA to the state and the individual airport authorities.

Facemire said it would be a hardship for many residents if cities other than Charleston lost commercial air service.

"It would be a real setback for us, with the distance people would have to travel to get to an airport," he said.

• Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Steve Dale said the driving public has adjusted to requirements for the state's Real ID-compliant driver's licenses, after an initial uproar early last year.

"It was a little bit of a rocky start, but the calls have dropped off," he said of complaints about stringent proof-of-identity requirements, including providing a birth certificate, Social Security card and two proofs of residency.

The process is particularly cumbersome for women, who have to provide marriage certificates and/or other documents if they changed their names.

Dale said he believes publicity, as well as a federally approved relaxation of identification requirements for drivers over age 50, reduced the complaints.

"There was a little bit of word-of-mouth going on," he said.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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