Government, Latest News, Monongalia County

Mon Commission unanimously endorses Green Bag Road roundabout project

MORGANTOWN — For three weeks running, representative of the Hastings family has asked the Monongalia County Commission to help steer the West Virginia Division of Highways away from a plan to build roundabouts on Green Bag Road.

On Wednesday, the commission unanimously approved a letter of support for the project, which would build a roundabout at the intersection of Green Bag Road and Mississippi Street and one at the Green Bag Road and Kingwood Pike intersection.

The Hastings family owns land at the corner of Green Bag Road and Kingwood Pike that is used to support Joy and Hemp Universal hemp farm, Mockingbird Hill Farm and the Conscious Harvest Cooperative community garden.

The state plans to take 1.7 acres of that land to build the traffic circle and expects 3.1 acres of farmland to be impacted.

“However, no areas of productive farmlands will be impacted, therefore this impact is expected to be negligible,” the DOH environmental assessment of the  project states.

Mary Hastings disagrees. She previously said her family has owned the land for more than 100 years.

“I moved back from D.C. I worked out there for 10 years as a business contractor and business developer to start my company in Mon County — to develop a cannabis farm and work with my family. I support four people right now … In 2048, I hope to be employing 50 people in Monongalia County,” she said, referencing the DOH’s claim that the project is expected to improve travel conditions through 2048.

The project has been on hold since April 2019, when pushback from the Hastings family and others prompted an environmental study.

Commissioner Sean Sikora noted that the outcome of that study reinforced previous findings that the DOH’s roundabout plan is appropriate.

He noted that the project still has the full support of the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization, upon which all three commissioners sit.

“This project, when it was talked about a couple years ago was in the $5 million range. Now it’s in the $10 million range. These delays are only increasing the cost of the whole project,” he said.

Commissioner Tom Bloom said the community’s desire to see Green Bag Road improved in order to divert trucks out of downtown Morgantown goes back more than a decade. He said Morgantown is one of the few cities of any size that has no bypass route.

He also noted the other main alternative configurations not only require farmland but multiple residences.

“I understand your concerns, but in the long run, we’ve had two major studies. This has been going on for 10 years and this was one of the priorities of the MMPO,” Bloom said.

The project will begin in front of Napa Auto Parts and extend 1.65 miles to Aarons Creek Road. About 1.2 miles of sidewalks will be constructed as part of the improvements, which are slated to begin in 2023.

In other county news, the commission approved $1,000 for cabinets, counter tops and electrical outlets for the Triune Community Center.