Published July 2007 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Roads to Saving Lives and Creating Jobs As I travel throughout West Virginia, I hear one comment in almost every location: "Senator, we need better highways." For as long as I can remember, improving our roads and highways has been a top concern for Mountain State residents.
Unfortunately, addressing that concern is not as easy as one might hope. It is not easy, nor is it cheap, to build roads that zigzag through our mountains. But I have not let those difficulties deter me from working to steer vital federal road construction dollars to West Virginia.
In legislation that I expect to come before the Senate in the next few weeks, I have worked to increase West Virginia's highway construction funding by $26 million - - to more than $356.1 million for next year. To augment those dollars, I have added funds for specific projects throughout the state, from the Eastern Panhandle through the Potomac Highlands, from the Southern Coalfields to the Northern Panhandle. There are urgent highway priorities all across our state, and these extra dollars should help to jumpstart many of them.
People often ask me: "Senator, why do you care so much about roads and highways?" Modern highways mean safer highways. The safety of the people of West Virginia is of paramount importance to me. Traveling to and from church should not be dangerous. Driving to school or work in the morning should not be hazardous. But two-lane roads with sharp turns and blind comers certainly compromise safety. By investing in wider, straighter roads, we invest in the safety of our people and help to save lives.
The economic benefit that a modem road and highway system can bring to an area is also very important. Not only is there the significant employment provided by road construction, but business development tends to follow close behind major road improvements. When business is growing, more people are working and communities can reap rewards.
I will continue my efforts to invest in the basic infrastructure of our state, including our roads and highways. Better roads save lives. Better roads bring jobs. Better roads pave the way to a brighter future for West Virginia. It's just that simple.
July 18, 2007