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Charles Parker

Charles Parker

Pot holes litter the roads, bridges are failing, aging water/sewer lines and deteriorating stormwater management are problems. West Virginia’s infrastructure is horrible, consistently receiving a D grade or worse. In addition, our construction workers need jobs.

For decades, our government has neglected our infrastructure, but Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is working to secure funding for our failing infrastructure.

Water, sewer and internet lines are not Republican or Democrat. Rarely do we find issues that have such strong bipartisan support as improvement to our infrastructure. West Virginia’s roads, bridges, schools, water, sewer and energy systems need our immediate attention. Thankfully, passage of the American Rescue Plan has started the investments in our state’s infrastructure, with an estimated $677 million being sent directly to every city and county in West Virginia. This funding, which would not be available without Manchin, can be used to replenish these areas from COVID-19, but will also be available for water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

Our state’s aging systems need significant investments for repairs, maintenance and expansion, which will begin with the American Rescue Plan. These investments not only invest in our infrastructure, but the American Rescue Plan, combined with the (hopeful) passage of the Great American Build, would save West Virginians, on average, $726 per year. West Virginians win with appropriate investments and infrastructure.

Investing in our infrastructure not only improves the quality of life for average West Virginians, but will provide good jobs with an appropriate wage for good honest work, which is direly needed in our state. Now is the time to invest in workers, who have struggled during the pandemic. Investing in our infrastructure and our workers will rebuild communities and allow families to thrive, through these good paying jobs. Employment opportunities, better quality of life and a strong economy, all from needed investments in West Virginia’s infrastructure.

We most commonly think of roads and bridges when we think of infrastructure, but water, sewer and internet infrastructure are just as important. Lack of clean water, slow or no internet connection and dangerous sewer issues are all too common in West Virginia. Clean water and operating sewer lines encourage growth and expansion for housing and business. Strong and fast internet encourages thriving businesses and students, both necessary for the growth of our state. The American Rescue Plan’s investment in these infrastructures will strengthen our communities for years to come.

Good-paying jobs, clean water and fast internet are not political issues. West Virginians need good infrastructure, and I encourage our government to put our tax dollars to use where we the people need it most. Manchin has given us a great opportunity to start investing in our future with the American Rescue Plan, and I am hopeful that more investments in our state’s infrastructure are on the way.

Charles Parker is business manager for the International Union Operating Engineers, Local 132. Local 132 represents over 5,000 West Virginia workers.

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