WHEN the authority that oversees the West Virginia Turnpike raised tolls in 2005, the public outcry was fierce, there was a court battle, and the authority was forced to back down.
But after getting its act together and assuring the public that the money would be dedicated to putting the Turnpike in tiptop shape, the authority raised tolls in August 2009 for the first time in 28 years.
This was unpopular but necessary. The Turnpike was falling into disrepair.
The higher tolls - out-of-state travelers pay most of it - have been used to fund $20 million a year in repairs, which has made a notable difference.
Consulting engineer Randy Epperly now says 70 percent of the 88-mile highway is in "good to very good" shape. That is up from only 40 percent in four years.
Such an effort is laudable.
West Virginians face a decision down the road on whether to keep tolls after the bonds used to build the Turnpike are retired in 2019. Considering the money tolls bring in from through travelers to maintain the roadway, it will be a difficult decision.
Using the money to upgrade the highway increases that temptation.
Southern West Virginians make the argument that the tolls inhibit economic development. But a high-quality roadway may have just the opposite effect.
At any rate, it is good to see a public body keep a promise. Letting an asset fall into ruin would be a big mistake.