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City of Morgantown looking to reassess how paving priorities are established

MORGANTOWN — With the loss of the 2020 paving season to COVID, the City of Morgantown is effectively heading into the third year of the five-year paving plan that began in 2018.

And it appears ready to head back to the drawing board.

City Manager Kim Haws said that the city is looking to contract a street assessment to help prioritize streets to be paved going forward.

The priority list currently in use was based on a similar study undertaken in the May 2017 by Dynatest.
According to information provided at the time by City Engineer Damien Davis, that contract was for just under $70,000.

Haws recently told council that the city was “anticipating that we’ll be able to get twice as much roadwork done this year because we’re combining the two years to get it done.”

But that doesn’t mean twice as much paving or additional budget, according to City Communications Manager Andrew Stacy.

The budget for paving this summer is still expected to be $1.8 million and includes the streets listed on the approved 2020 list, “with some minor modifications.”

Stacy said the $1.8 million — which is generated by the city’s $3 weekly user fee — will also cover the North Street widening project, as well as the cost of the new street assessment tasked with providing recommendations on street paving and maintenance going forward.

Assistant City Manager Emily Muzzarelli said that the new plan will likely move away from the idea that every street in the city must be paved in equal intervals.

She said the assessment in use has streets “prioritized and broken down into different sections and sometimes those sections, now that we’ve been a few years into it, may not make the most sense.”

“There are certain routes that have higher use that are going to need to be re-paved more often than some of the other routes,” Muzzarelli added. “So it’s not every road having to be re-paved every 10 or 15 or 20 years or whatever it might be because some roads may need to be re-paved at a higher frequency due to the type of use and what type of vehicles are on them. That is something that we’re going to be looking at much more closely.”

It also appears that the city is ahead of schedule.

The 2020 paving list approved by city council last February includes many of the streets listed under 2021 in the five-year plan available on the city’s website.

Either way, this year’s plan includes all or part of the following streets: Cobun Avenue, Dayton Avenue, Eastern Avenue, Fenwick Street, Greendale Street, Madigan Avenue, Maple Avenue, McLane Avenue, Oakland Street, Park Street, Prairie Avenue, Prospect Street, South Hills Drive, Wilson Avenue and Woodland Drive.

The city projects a May 10 start date for paving projects.