MORGANTOWN — While many primary and main roads in Morgantown and Monongalia County are in deteriorating condition, many of the secondary roads and back roads are in equally poor, if not worse shape.
The West Virginia Department of Highways acknowledges the problems, but is plagued by other factors that prevent it from addressing those issues in a timely fashion.
“We are behind for sure and getting further behind,” DOH District 4 engineer/manager Donald L. Williams said. “Recent storms and lack of personnel effects our ability to maintain the system.”
The persistence of rain, snow and cold temperatures throughout the area has also contributed to delays in various road repair projects.
“(We are) currently working on the core plan and working on revisions,” Williams said. “Many factors can affect the plan that makes it hard to list possible future roads to be repaired. For example: A plan is in place but a major rain storm can change everything.”
A number of readers and area residents have reached out to The Dominion Post in recent weeks, wanting to talk about various secondary roads that are in substandard condition.
Until moving to downtown Morgantown a few weeks ago, Jake Kibert had lived on the Kingwood Pike his entire life and used the road daily to commute to work.
About a mile up the pike from the Green Bag Road intersection, a 40- to 50-foot stretch of one lane of the road has given away and sunken a foot or two into the ground.
Kibert said it started with a small crack the morning of April 4, and in the weeks since, has worsened to its current state. Kibert still uses the Kingwood Pike several times a week to visit his family.
“Road conditions on the pike, as well as the side road we live on, have always been bad,” Kibert said. “Many people I know have contacted (the DOH). The responses are usually always the same.
They respond by saying there is a lack of DOH employees, and that if the issue is deemed urgent, it would be fixed. In regards to this specific issue, they have told people that it will be discussed in a meeting at some point.”
The DOH responded by using traffic cones to cordon off half the road and divert traffic for the time being.
“At this point, it almost seems as if one day the road is just going to slide over the hill,” Kibert said. “I think it’s sad that the safety of the population of Morgantown and its surrounding areas have to be put at risk because of the lack of attention and proper care to the roads.”
Roy Thrasher said Hagans Road, near Arnettsville Hill along the Monongalia-Marion County border, has had no upgrades in the 20 years he’s lived there. After reaching out to the DOH more than once, he said he was told that the road wasn’t on any list for any upgrades.
Owl Creek Road
Owl Creek Road, connecting Grafton Road and Goshen Road, is also plagued by disrepair.
Potholes of varying sizes and depths litter the road, and parts of the edges of the road are falling off.
In 2016, a tree fell across the road, due to heavy rain, and damaged part of the roof of a home.
The tree was not removed, but cut and sawed off right where it intersected with the road, while the logs were left on the side of the road in a drainage ditch. This caused the drainage ditch to fill with leaves and debris that prevents water run-off from being able to drain and flow.
As such, the water has pooled and frozen and melted and refrozen over time, exacerbating the problem.
Cheat area roads
In the Cheat Lake area, Tyrone Avery Road, Pounds Hollow Road and Fields Park Road have all concerned area residents.
The worst potholes of Tyrone Avery Road have been patched by the DOH, but Pounds Hollow Road, which connects with Tyrone Avery Road, is mostly gravel. In places, the gravel has been shifted around by rainwater, creating water-filled potholes. Pounds Hollow Road connects Tyrone Avery Road and Fields Park Road.
Bethel Church Road
Kelly Ann Collins’ family farm is located off Bethel Church Road in Maidsville.
She said snow and ice, combined with the potholes, makes the road almost impossible to drive on in winter.
“It’s in bad shape,” Collins said. “There are horrible potholes and cracks — and that, paired with not treating it well enough, is very dangerous. Also, there are no guardrails. So if someone hits a pothole and slides on ice or simply loses control on the hills the only place they can go is off steep hills that are comparable to cliffs.”
Williams admits that the pavement mix the DOH uses to repair roads in the summer is superior to the mix that it uses to patch roads when temperatures are still cold.
“Hot-mix asphalt compacts much better and sets up,” Williams said. “In the winter time, asphalt plants are closed and we use a cold mix, which is designed to remain pliable in colder temperatures.”
Williams said the core maintenance plan is designed to work on all routes in priority order. He said there is room in the plan for emergencies and requests, but it is vital that the DOH follows its plan to do the most good for the most people.
A maintenance service request can be submitted to the DOH at http://dotftp.wv.gov/cra/