Council votes to take no action, residents speak out on DOH plans for Sabraton intersection

MORGANTOWN — Morgantown City Council convened before a packed chamber Tuesday as more than a dozen residents of the Norwood and Jerome Park neighborhoods spoke out in opposition to West Virginia Division of Highways plans for the intersection of W.Va. 7 (Earl L Core Road) and CR 857 (Green Bag Road), in Sabraton.

The issue was on council’s agenda in the form of a resolution that would have voiced council’s support for the DOH’s plan, which has been unpopular with residents in the surrounding neighborhoods since it first came to light in April. City Manager Paul Brake said the DOH did not ask the city to take up the resolution.

After hearing from residents and outgoing DOH District 4 Engineer Donny Williams, council voted 6-0 to take no action on the resolution with the understanding it ultimately carries no weight in how the DOH moves forward. Councilor Barry Wendell was not in attendance.

The major sticking point is the project’s closure of the unnamed connector between Hardee’s and Woodburn Shanks that links Sabraton Avenue and W.Va. 7.

Williams explained that the connector dramatically hampers the flow of traffic on W.Va. 7 and encourages motorists to use Sabraton Avenue as a cut-through, bring-ing more traffic through the neighborhoods.

He went on to say that both intersections at that central crossroads — W.Va. 7 and CR 857; and W.Va. 7 and the unnamed connector — are currently at a level of service D and deteriorating.

Williams said the funding, plans and needed rights of way are already in place to proceed. Doing nothing, he added, will only compound the problem as time goes on.

According to DOH plans, there will be right-in, right-out access between the connector and W.Va. 7 to allow access to Hardee’s and Woodburn Shanks. The connector’s intersection with Sabraton Avenue will be closed to traffic using a traversable curb that will be passable for emergency vehicles only.

Concerns voiced by residents, including the owners of Classic Furniture, that the closure of the connector would prevent delivery trucks from accessing businesses on Sabraton Avenue were refuted by Williams, who said DOH analysis shows 18-wheelers and large fuel tanker trucks will still be able to reach the businesses.

Williams said the reworking of the intersection is the first and most crucial step in a number of planned improvements to that stretch, including a right-turn lane from W.Va. 7 onto Hartman Run Road, modified signals near Kroger and Sheetz and an additional eastbound lane on W.Va. 7 to I-68.

Both City Engineer Damien Davis and Morgantown Monongalia Metro-politan Planning Organization Director Bill Austin endorsed the DOH plans.

In other city news, council:

— Set the trick-or-treat time from 6 p.m.- 8 p.m. on Oct. 31.

— Approved $80,045 for design services by Thrasher Engineering for work on Morgantown Public Safety Building, including roof repairs and replacement, as well as HVAC and generator replacement, among others.

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