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Report shows WV traffic fatality rate second highest in the nation

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West Virginia's traffic fatality rate is the second highest in the nation, according to a new report from TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation research organization.

The report, released Jan. 9, calls for investment at the local, state and federal levels to improve road and bridge conditions as well as to increase safety and to support economic growth in the state.

The report calls one-third of "major" roads, both state and locally maintained, in "poor or mediocre condition."

Carol Fulks, chairman of West Virginians for Better Transportation, said her organization applauds Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's creation of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways.

"WVBT looks forward to the completion of the commission's report and supports further efforts to safeguard our roads, bridges and highways, preserve jobs, ensure safe travel conditions and protect our greatest transportation system, which benefits all West Virginians," Fulks said.

TRIP's studies are sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, distributors and suppliers as well as businesses involved in highway and transit engineering and construction, labor unions and organizations concerned with an efficient and safe surface transportation network, according to the organization's website.

The TRIP report states that 12 percent of West Virginia's "major roads" have pavements in poor condition, with 24 percent in mediocre condition and 13 percent of the state's bridges "structurally deficient," which is categorized as having significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. The report also found 22 percent of the state's bridges to be "functionally obsolete" because they no longer meet current highway design standards.

The group's October 2013 report found 36 percent of West Virginia's major roads in poor or mediocre condition with 36 percent of the state's bridges structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

"Addressing West Virginia's need for a safe, efficient and well-maintained transportation system will require a significant investment boost at the federal, state and local levels," said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. "But not addressing the state's need for an improved transportation system will result in even greater costs to the public."