MANNINGTON, W.Va. – Imagine having to use a road every single day that has not been fully repaired in more than 10 years.
Debra Bland does not have to imagine because that is, unfortunately, her reality, she says. She lives just off Bethel Road and she has to use the narrow, one-lane road, which is chockful of potholes, all the time.
“You have to go extremely slow,” Bland said. “You have to completely stop to go through the hole, the pothole, and then go on.”
The numerous potholes have caused damage to Bland’s and her family’s vehicles. The most notable problem is the fact that they have busted their tires because of the potholes.
That, however, is not their biggest concern. Instead, it’s the safety of children whose school buses travel up and down Bethel Rd.
“It’s unsafe for the vehicles, but it’s unsafe for our children riding on that bus, banging their heads against the windows,” Bland said. “And even the bus driver has complained to the state road about it, and thus far nothing has been done.”
When the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) does stop on Bethel Rd., Bland said, all it does is patch some potholes, but that doesn’t remedy the problem.
In fact, WVDOH stopped by on Thursday, July 15, with the mission of patching the potholes. But, that’s all the division ever does, she says. The patches merely make the road more tolerable for a while, but then the weather and cars, including coal trucks, driving on Bethel help to erode the asphalt.
In the wintertime, things are especially worse, Bland said.
“They don’t take care of it in the wintertime,” she said. “We can’t get them to go out and grade the road and it’s not safe for our children to be driving on that road in the wintertime.”
Bland said all she, her family, friends and neighbors want is for the state to uphold its end of the bargain to taxpayers.
“It’s very frustrating to spend that kind of money on the vehicle, to pay taxes on it, to pay for insurance, to pay for your sticker and this money goes to the state and we feel like we’re being neglected because we live in the country,” Bland said. “And it’s very, you know — it’s that we’re afraid for our children riding the school bus.”