MPO Policy Board discusses pedestrian projects along Patteson

MORGANTOWN — Members of the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board inquired Thursday on the status of pedestrian-focused efforts along Patteson Drive.

The efforts  included a working group with representatives from WVU, the West Virginia Division of Highways, Morgantown, Monongalia County and other stakeholders. It arose in the wake of two serious vehicle-versus-pedestrian accidents, one of which claimed the life of a 21-year old WVU student last February.

“We had several meetings at WVU, and I thought there was this great momentum, but I haven’t heard anything in a year,” County Commissioner Tom Bloom said.

According to Ron Justice, WVU’s MPO representative, the group lost momentum when  former DOH District 4 Engineer Donny Williams retired and the university’s point person on the issue left for another job. He said meetings should resume shortly.

Bloom went on to ask about a couple projects the DOH promised to provide along that corridor as a part of the process — one being enhanced lighting along Patteson and the other a better crosswalk at its intersection with W.Va. 705.

“It was a definite, the DOH and we all agreed, but we’ve not heard anything,” Bloom said.

DOH representative Brian Carr said he was told the enhanced lighting project is “90 percent complete,” but it was delayed when a falling power line damaged one of the light fixtures.

County Commission Sean Sikora said the lights appear to be in place, but only a portion of them are actually functioning, noting, “It’s been like that for months.”

Bloom, who along with fellow DOH District 4 commissioners and other stakeholders took their road concerns to Charleston earlier this week as part of the North Central Road Caucus, said he’s beyond frustrated.

“This has got to stop. Whether it’s that or it’s I-79, which should have been done months ago, this has got to stop. We are paying for it economically in this whole community, and we’ve had it. As you can tell, the frustration level is boiling over,” Bloom said.

In other MPO news, the marquee item on Thursday’s agenda — discussion of additional Morgantown Industrial Park access and how such a project is prioritized by the MPO — was pulled from the agenda at the start of the meeting.

It was explained that the body is awaiting additional information. There is no timeline on when the information will be available.

Lastly, as it was the body’s first meeting of 2019, the MPO Policy Board named Morgantown City Councilor Jenny Selin as its chairperson. Joe Statler, representing Blacksville, was named vice chair, and Granville Mayor Patty Lewis was reappointed as treasurer.

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