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Transportation plan hurts Putnam County

On Oct. 11, 1968, Cabell and Wayne counties in West Virginia were grouped with neighboring counties in Kentucky and Ohio in the Kyova Interstate Planning Commission.

It's a planning agency established by federal law to develop a transportation plan for the region.

The Charleston area had a similar agency that covered Kanawha and Putnam counties. These agencies oversee funds for transportation planning, which can lead to possible funding of projects.

The Charleston planning area has done well. The combination of modern water and sewer systems and flat land turned the Interstate 64 corridor in Putnam County into the fastest-growing area in the state.

The area covered by Kyova did not do as well.

Now, guided by Census data, the bureaucracy is breaking up the Kanawha and Putnam counties after 44 years. Scott Depot lost its urbanized area designation following the last Census. As a result, communities  along I-64 in Teays Valley have been tacked onto the Kyova planning area.

Other areas in Putnam County, including the county seat of Winfield, will remain as part of the Kanawha Valley transportation planning agency.

Putnam officials worry that their county will get less attention. The county is not represented on the Kyova council.

"It doesn't make a whole lot of sense for us to be, in terms of transportation planning, a part of the Huntington area, because our traffic tends to flow toward Charleston," said Putnam County Manager Brian Donat.

"It doesn't really make a whole lot of sense for Putnam County to look westward because we don't drive westward."

County commissioners are right to be concerned. It is hard to see how splitting the county and orienting one part toward Huntington - will help Hurricane, Scott Depot and the other areas handed over to Kyova.

Lumping Putnam with Huntington won't make Huntington stronger and could harm Putnam in the end.

Statistics are useful, but in this case, they have forced a change that doesn't make sense on the ground.


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