Road Patrol: WVDOH demonstrates importance of ditching


Crews at the West Virginia Division of Highways start early and work often to combat the continuous maintenance and upkeep on the state’s roadways.  

Potholes, crumbling shoulders and buckled pavement can be the result of many factors including water damage.  Making sure water drainage is up to par is a round-the-clock job for DOH crews.

“It’s a big misconception that whenever you get a patch or get a road paved that that’s all it is, but there’s a lot of work that goes into preparing that road. You’ve got to patch that, make sure everything is smooth and level. You got to make sure the ditches are opened up and all that to allow the contract to come in and do the patching and paving,” said Acting County Administrator Earl Gaskins.

The spring is designated for inspecting ditches and culverts, and as the weather changes, crews work to clear debris.

“When everything is wet, the best you can do is make sure the water flows and the culverts are open.  Once the weather starts cooperating, we start getting more dryer conditions. That’s when you can pull that material in large quantities out of the ditch,” said Gaskins.

The DOH is predominantly broken into three crews: ditching, grading and patching. Officials said ditching is the most important of the maintenance department’s tasks.

“Ditching is one of the most important things we do as the maintenance department here,” continued Gaskins. “Without the ditchers, you can’t sustain the roadways. You’ve got to keep the water off the road. It’s a four-season job.”

Grading makes sure that the ditches and shoulders are clear of debris and keeps water off of roadways that may cause potholes and cracking.

Once the grader is finished cleaning out the ditches and making sure the shoulders are cleaned off also, a truck will come by and clean up the debris off the roadway to make sure that it’s safe for motorists.

With the highs and lows of West Virginia weather, ditching is a continuous need.

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