CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Several cities in West Virginia are suing paving companies, accusing them of developing a statewide monopoly to inflate the cost of asphalt.

Local news organizations report that the cities of Beckley, Charleston, Bluefield and Parkersburg, as well as the West Virginia Department of Transportation and Division of Highways, have accused the companies of creating a scheme that caused the municipalities to pay at least 40 percent more for asphalt than they should have.

The cities and the DOT alleged that the companies took control of at least 15 asphalt plants that at one time competed with each other and kept prices at competitive levels. They said that the companies’ actions have violated the West Virginia Antitrust Act, which protects free trade and commerce.

Several companies including West Virginia Paving were named in the complaints.

West Virginia Paving said in a statement that there is no factual or legal basis for the lawsuits. The company challenged the claim that the defendants inflated the price of asphalt, saying that changes in prices were directly related to the cost of transportation and raw materials.

“While WVP can’t prevent the cities from filing a lawsuit or prevent the cities from misrepresenting the facts outlined in a lawsuit, WVP will defend itself against these lawsuits and factual misrepresentations made by the cities,” the company stated.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Court Judge Tod Kaufman.