JOHN Denver had it right. West Virginia is almost heaven. But funding those "Country Roads" he sang about is a perplexing and difficult prospect.
The governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways laid out a proposal to finance construction. There is some good news and some bad. The need is very real.
The conservative Reason Foundation's annual report on highways ranked West Virginia 32nd among the states. From that report:
■ West Virginia has the sixth largest state highway system.
■ The state ranks second-to-last in spending per mile at $40,436.
■ The state has the fourth-highest percentage of deficient bridges.
■ The state suffers the fourth-highest fatality rate with 1.82 traffic deaths per 100 million miles driven.
For safety's sake, West Virginia must do a better job and that will require more funding.
The centerpiece of the commission plan is borrowing a billion dollars to be paid in part by maintaining and increasing tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike.