CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Turnpike is in much better shape than it was four years ago when toll increases went into effect, a consulting engineer said.
Only 40 percent of the turnpike was considered in "good to very good shape" before the tolls were increased in 2009. Today, 70 percent of the turnpike has this rating, Randy Epperly said.
Revenue from the toll hikes is helping to pay for an overhaul of the 88-mile highway between Charleston and Princeton.
The Register-Herald reports that Epperly told the West Virginia Parkways Authority last week that 80 percent of the turnpike will be in "good to very good" shape by 2019, at an annual cost of about $20 million for the repairs.
Turnpike Manager Greg Barr agreed with Epperly's assessment.
"We're making a lot of headway," he said.
A mill and inlay cycle scheduled to begin by 2019 will keep the pavement smooth, at an annual cost of nearly $13 million, Barr said.
But the need for improvements will continue.
"By 2019, all of our bridges will be over 40 years old, just like the rest of the country," Barr said. "Two will be 60 years old.
"There are going to be needs for bridge deck replacements, latex modified concrete overlays, and a lot more paint, as that steel and concrete ages."
The turnpike's outstanding bonds are to be satisfied by 2019, which also is critical because the Legislature could exercise the option of ending the tolls.
During the recent regular session, the House of Delegates approved a bill that would turn over the turnpike to the Division of Highways. The measure died in the Senate.