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Granville, Mon Commission, WestRidge discuss three-way split of traffic lights

MORGANTOWN — In September, representatives from the town of Granville asked if money generated by the University Town Centre TIF could be used to address two problem intersections.

It looks as if the answer to that question is yes, with qualifications, and likely not to the level the town was hoping.

Mayor Patty Lewis and company walked away from a recent work session with the Monongalia County Commission and Ryan Lynch, representing developer WestRidge, with preliminary, verbal support for a three-way split of the cost to construct two new traffic lights and/or other traffic control devices along University Town Center Drive.

If things ultimately move forward, one light will be placed where University Town Centre Drive passes between Walmart and the WVU Medicine facility, and another will be placed at the bottom of the hill, between Granville Square and Sesame Drive, which provides access to Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s and Panda Express.

A preliminary study of both locations performed by staff from the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization concluded that additional traffic control is needed.

Granville Police Chief Craig Corkrean would concur.

He said those intersections, particularly the one at Sesame Drive, produce the most serious accidents in Granville’s jurisdiction due to a combination of speed and the congestion created as drivers attempt to turn across traffic in both directions.

“It’s just a mess,” Corkrean said, explaining it’s not uncommon to see vehicles trying to turn onto Sesame Drive backed up to the traffic light next to the Exit 153 roundabout.

He suggested temporarily making traffic pulling onto University Town Centre Drive from both Sesame Drive and Granville Square right turn only until the lights are in place. Those drivers can then go down through the roundabout if it want to come back up the hill.

“We’re going to try to be down there more,” Corkrean said. “But I don’t know how much we can do more. There’s got to be another solution other than throwing a law enforcement solution at the problem.”

Lynch recommended letting a traffic engineer sign off on any temporary measures.

“Until a professional engineer recommends an adjustment, I don’t really want any input into the solution because I know what I don’t know, so to speak,” he said.

The cost sharing proposal is contingent on Granville Town Council not only agreeing to pay a third of the bill for the lights, but also cover the cost of a full traffic study and preliminary engineering of the intersections.

Lewis said she’s been told those preliminary steps could be accomplished for as little as $25,000.

While she said she’d pass the information to council, Lewis didn’t seem overly enthused, asking “So, am I understanding you that I’m going to tell our council that our TIF money will not pay for those lights?”

Commission President Sean Sikora said TIF money would be paying a third of that cost under the proposed scenario, with the county contributing a third “and the economy that Granville has enjoyed because of the district would also be contributing.”

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