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MPO seeks input for major transportation plan update

MORGANTOWN — Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Director Bill Austin is gearing up for a major update to the MPO’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

Or, as he characterized it, an opportunity for “the big reset.”

“I really think this is probably the most important long-range plan I’ve worked on at any of the MPOs that I’ve worked at,” Austin told members of The Dominion Post Editorial Board on Monday.

The MPO’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan, formerly called the Long Range Transportation Plan, is a federally mandated document required to be updated every five years or so.

The updated plan will detail how the MPO’s urbanized area transportation system will evolve from 2022-2050.

Austin said the community is in a state of flux due to local events, including Mylan’s closure, as well as global ones, like the ongoing pandemic.

“What is the percentage of people who are going to continue working from home? The rail-trail, its usage went up dramatically with the pandemic. Is that going to continue? So there’s a state of flux with all of that,” Austin said. “But it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for us to recalibrate how our community works. Then you throw all the funding that’s coming on top of it. Well, what are our priorities? If we go to Charleston with one set of priorities, we have a much better chance of getting it done.”

Setting those priorities is where you come in.

The MPO has scheduled a virtual public symposium for Aug. 26. There will be two sessions — from noon-1 p.m. and from 5:30-7 p.m. at The meeting ID is 424 982 0429 and the password is 8675309.

Additionally, there’s an online survey and interactive map at where you can identify the challenges and opportunities you see in the local transportation network.

While Austin admits the speed at which road project advance can be frustrating, he said a number of projects identified in the MTP — which was adopted in 2013 and updated in 2017 — are either underway or coming within the next two years.

Those projects include the Mileground widening, the construction of a pedestrian path along Van Voorhis Road; a Green Bag Road roundabout; and improvements from Luckey Lane to just past Mississippi Street; a redesign of the West Run Road/Point Marion Road intersection; and a realignment of Campus Drive and re-striping of Beechurst Avenue to create two southbound lanes.

Austin said this update is particularly important as it is happening in parallel with comprehensive planning efforts by Monongalia County, Morgantown, Westover, and Granville.

“We’re creating a vision for 2050 that is based on the local land-use policies coming out of these comprehensive plans and we want to use the federal funds that are coming available to accommodate those local land-use plans,” Austin said, noting buy-in from the community as well as the county and municipalities can be crucial in securing project funding.

“It’s very important that these activities work together because when we go for funding, when we go for those RAISE grants, we can say this is a comprehensive vision for our community,” Austin said, later adding “This is a chance to recreate, in my mind, how the transportation network works.”

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