MORGANTOWN — Brace yourself.
West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) District 4 Engineer Donny Williams wasn’t quite that economical in describing the overlapping waves of transportation projects coming to Monongalia County over the next couple years, but the sentiment was there.
“If I can say it, and be very honest, it’s unprecedented the amount of work that’s coming,” Williams said Thursday morning before 30 or so elected officials, stakeholders and interested citizens, at Mountain Line Transit Authority’s Westover headquarters.
So much work, Williams explained, the DOH is weighing the creation of a Morgantown field office out of which between 15 and 30 DOH employees could be dispatched to inspect the various projects being contracted by the state.
Williams, joined by a contingent of DOH personnel, said the purpose of Thursday’s session was to inform residents, particularly those who drive in Morgantown, that things are going to get better — but first they’re going to get a whole lot more inconvenient.
Included on a sheet listing 143 projects through 2020 — from paving to complete replacement of large sections of road — were major improvements to basically every major artery in and around Morgantown.
“These are the projects that have a lot of potential for traffic control. These are a lot of the things that’s going to make the residents’ life a nightmare in the next several years here in the Morgantown area,” Williams said.
Just a few of the major projects discussed include:
- The Mileground — The state is in the process of acquiring rights-of-way for the project, which will run between Morgantown Powersports on one end and the roundabout on the other.
The road will be widened to five lanes, including a continuous turn lane, and will be built out with sidewalks as a part of the $15 million effort.
It is anticipated that the contract will be let by August.
Williams said another project will follow that will address Easton Hill.
- W.Va. 705 — Williams explained the DOH isn’t equipped to handle the failing concrete pavement.
“Those joints have failed completely,” he said. “We just can’t keep it up.”
Williams said Thrasher Engineering, working as consultant on the project, is finishing up the design phase.
Fixing the concrete is expected to cost $3 million.
He went on to say there is a possibility that both the Mileground and W.Va. 705 could be under construction at the same time.
The goal is to do much of the work at night while keeping multiple lanes open to traffic.
“I drive it every day … It almost throws me through the windshield sometimes, hitting some of those holes,” he said. “Is it worth the patience to get it fixed right or do we continue the way we are because we can’t fix it?”
- Monongahela Boulevard, from the Coliseum to the Star City Bridge, will be widened to five lanes, including a left turn lane, and will be flanked by sidewalks, eliminating all on-street parking, which often happens during WVU events.
Williams said the project was awarded to Mountaineer Contracting.
- Patteson Drive — Williams said Patteson will be used as a “demonstration project” in light of a rash of recent accidents involving pedestrians.
“That might mean different types of lights, signals, adjusting signals, different types of crosswalks. We’re not sure yet,” he said, projecting movement on the work next spring between University Avenue and Mon-ongahela Boulevard.
It was explained that a contract was already let to improve lighting along the street, which sees more than 34,000 vehicles daily.
A separate project to install a turn lane was also discussed.
- Blue Horizon Drive (W.Va. Route 19) to Pennsylvania state line will undergo a complete rebuild starting five miles from the state border.
“They’re completely reconstructing that interstate. We’re talking all the way down through the concrete and back up,” Williams said.
Bear Contracting was awarded the $16.5 million contract and is expected to begin work shortly.
- Goshen Road, Smithtown Road intersection improvements.
“This is a major reconstruction,” Williams said. “Is it going to be a pain, absolutely. There’s no way around it … You can imagine all those trucks trying to get off to get to the Pilot station.”