‘Safety hazard’ prompts Morgantown crews to address state road

MORGANTOWN — Among the ideas being floated about how to address deteriorating roads involves allowing municipalities to address emerging issues on state roads and bill the department of transportation for the work.

Turns out that’s nothing new, at least in terms of cities tending to state roads — as crews from the City of Morgantown demonstrated this past week when they addressed potholes on a state road just outside the city’s boundaries.

Anyone traveling Stewartstown Road/Stewart Street — also known as County Route 67 — in recent months is familiar with a  stretch of potholes between the Suncrest Towne Centre entrance and Shorty Anderson’s Auto Services, at 908 Stewart St.

A series of craters directly in front of the business left drivers with the options of stopping in the road to let oncoming traffic clear, edging over into oncoming traffic and hoping it obliges or driving through the holes, risking vehicle damage.

City crews patched the potholes on April 11.

“I can say that it is not a common occurrence and the only times it does occur is if there is an issue with a state-maintained road that poses a safety hazard,” Morgantown Communications Manager Andrew Stacy said of the decision to address the potholes.

Stacy said he could not provide totals indicating how many times the city has taken such action, or how much it’s spent in those efforts.

Further, he said, there is no formal agreement with the state to receive reimbursement, “but we are in communication with them when we address these issues.”

Without state reimbursement, city residents are essentially paying to have city crews address roads they’re already paying the DOH to maintain.

While City Manager Paul Brake said the city hasn’t typically requested or received reimbursement for this type of work, he does plan to review the details of this latest job with city staff to determine whether the city needs to reach out to the DOH.

Brake said he met with former Transportation Secretary Tom Smith in July to begin discussions about how the city and DOH could work together.

“Based on changes in leadership at the Transportation Department, those discussions need to be revisited,” Brake said.

West Virginia Division of Highways Spokesman Brent Walker said the DOH has had a “long running understanding” with municipalities for years, when it comes to road maintenance.

“It is not uncommon to receive assistance from municipalities … they are familiar with our standards and specifications, they know how to do the work, and they provide proper traffic control,” Walker explained, noting the work is typically limited to temporary patching. “We appreciate the assistance.”

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