MORGANTOWN — Local officials are hoping the West Virginia Department of Highways will give pedestrians some assistance in navigating the confluence of Earl L. Core Road (W.Va. 7), Mineral Avenue and Deckers Creek Boulevard.
This past spring and fall, staff with the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization conducted counts in the area, looking at pedestrian traffic, bicycle traffic and vehicle turning movement counts.
They walked away with two conclusions — a traffic light isn’t needed, but additional pedestrian infrastructure is.
“We found that given the pedestrian safety issues associated with the intersection … it does warrant further study for pedestrian crossings,” MPO Executive Director Bill Austin said, explaining that there were 47 pedestrian crossings of W.Va. 7 during the study period.
“That’s a lot for an intersection in that condition,” he said.
Along with the congestion caused by cars entering W.Va. 7 from Mineral Avenue and Deckers Creek Boulevard, the area sees a substantial number of heavy trucks traveling W.Va. 7 toward downtown Morgantown.
The area was one of the priority pedestrian problem areas identified in the Morgantown Regional Bike & Pedestrian Transportation Plan, released in the fall of 2019.
A suggested design put together by Stantec as part of that plan would extend the Mineral Avenue sidewalk around the bend and along a short stretch of W.Va. 7, toward Sabraton. About midway between Mineral Avenue and Deckers Creek Boulevard, the sidewalk would terminate at a pedestrian crosswalk that would pass through a raised median island.
The crossing would feed into a new sidewalk that would follow the curve onto Deckers Creek Boulevard and a staircase allowing access to the Deckers Creek rail-trail.
Pedestrians now use a make-shift path connecting the shoulder of W.Va. 7 and the trail.
In additional to the W.Va. 7 crossing, the Stantec plan would also realign how the Deckers Creek trail crosses Deckers Creek Boulevard.
Morgantown Mayor Jenny Selin said improvements are badly needed, calling the pedestrian crossings “very difficult.”
“If we did have some sort of appropriate provision here, it would make a huge difference for people in these neighborhoods getting to the shops, the park and everything on the other side [of W.Va. 7],” she said. “It would be amazing to have a crossing there.”
Austin added that the MPO’s counts indicate a new traffic light isn’t needed at this time.
“The traffic warrant that we felt was most appropriate for it was a four-hour warrant, which means that it has to exceed certain traffic volumes over a four-hour period consistently to justify the installation of a signal there,” he said. “It only met that criteria one hour of the four hours that we looked at, and that was at two different count times.”
Austin said members of the MPO’s policy board asked his office to look into a traffic signal in that location after a temporary light was placed there in March 2020 as part of the W.Va. 7/Green Bag Road intersection realignment project.