DOH continues to look at options for Sabraton intersection

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) Spokesman Brent Walker said the state is still looking at options for the intersection of W.Va. 7 (Earl L Core Road) and CR 857 (Green Bag Road), in Sabraton.

He said there is not yet a specific timeline as to when a design will be selected and work started.

The project has been on hold since mid-April, when residents of Norwood and Jerome Park learned the DOH was weeks away from taking construction bids on a redesign of the intersection that would eliminate the short connector — between Hardee’s and Woodburn Shanks — that allows access between Sabraton Avenue and Earl Core Road.

At the time, DOH District 4 Engineer Donny Williams called the crossroads “one of the strangest I’ve ever seen,” explaining the proposed changes would raise the intersection’s level of service from an F to a C.

Even so, residents voiced concerns that the redesign would dramatically affect access to a handful of businesses and ultimately close in the neighborhoods while simply pushing traffic to the next available outlet.

The reaction marked the second time public outcry nixed planned construction at that location.

A series of seven potential designs for the intersection were presented in 2015, but received such universal disapproval in public comments that they were scrapped. Those public comments were ultimately what informed the DOH’s most recent design, which also was rejected by residents.

During a recent meeting with local officials, Williams said making that intersection more functional is a critical component to making Green Bag Road a more viable option for large trucks.

Morgantown officials have made multiple attempts to get the heavy trucks out of the city’s business district, so far to no avail. Green Bag Road has long been considered a potential alternative if it could be upgraded to handle the traffic.

When the subject of trucks came up again recently through a proposed amendment to the city’s Home Rule plan, City Manager Paul Brake said city administration plans to work hand-in-hand with the DOH this time around.

Williams said the goal should be to make such sweeping changes and improvements to Green Bag Road that truck drivers would prefer it to driving through the downtown area.

And many of those changes have already been spelled out by the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).

MPO Executive Director Bill Austin said the initial step toward implementing some of the MPO’s 2015 Green Bag Road Study recommendations will get rolling soon.

“The Green Bag Road project — the construction project — is not planned at this point. What is planned is a preliminary investigation and environmental study,” Austin said, adding “It needs to be finalized to determine exactly what it’s going to be, but this is the first step in actually getting it constructed.”

Austin said work on Green Bag Road is slated to receive funding through general obligation bonds.

Among the improvements identified by the MPO are a widening of both lanes from the current 9-10 feet to at least the 11-foot standard width as well as a reworking of the intersection with Dorsey Lane and the addition of pedestrian paths along at least a portion of the road.

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