Editorials, Opinion

Unsafe intersection needs immediate, interim solution

The wheels of bureaucracy are known to turn slowly, but when it comes to potentially severe bodily harm, the wheels must turn faster.

Nearly six months ago, in November 2021, representatives from the Monongalia County Commission, the Town of Granville and the WestRidge development met to discuss the problematic intersections of Sesame Drive and University Town Centre Drive and Granville Square and University Town Centre Drive.

The location in question is on the back side of the University Town Centre hill, between the ballpark and the new roundabout that allows drivers to enter/exit the interstate or go across to the WestRidge Development. Sesame Drive gives access to the Panda Express and Wendy’s. Granville Square leads to the Hampton Inn and the Granville Square Shops.

In order to go down the hill toward the roundabout from Granville Square or up the hill toward Walmart from Sesame Drive, cars must cross four to five lanes of traffic on University Town Centre Drive. On the main thoroughfare, there are no stop signs or stoplights. The posted speed limit is 25 mph, but it’s not uncommon for cars to speed by at 40-50 mph. And in the past year, there have been eight accidents along this stretch reported to MECCA 911. That number doesn’t include all the accidents and fender-benders for which 911 was not contacted. And it definitely doesn’t include the dozens of near misses that happen every day.

At the aforementioned meeting, it was discussed that Mon County, Granville and WestRidge could split the cost of installing traffic lights here and where WVU Medicine and Walmart intersect with University Town Centre Drive.

Now, six months after the meeting, an aerial mapping of the area is being worked on, according to Granville Mayor Patty Lewis. She told our reporter the engineering phase is next, but there is no set timeline for installing the stoplights because required materials are not readily available at this time.

We can respect that supply chain disruptions have impacted the project. However, it’s been six months since the problem was identified, and no stop-gap measures have been put in place in the meantime.

Granville Police Chief Craig Corkrean previously suggested drivers on Sesame Drive who wish to head up the hill toward Walmart be required to turn right, down to the roundabout, instead of left, and a corresponding sign was put up. However, there is no equivalent alternative for drivers coming off of Granville Square who are trying to go to WestRidge.

If stoplights are not currently a viable option, then serious consideration needs to given to posting patrol cars along that stretch to enforce the speed limit (which is no one’s preferred solution) or to install a four-way stop there.

The four-way stop isn’t a perfect solution. Sesame Drive and Granville Square don’t perfectly align. There are eight lanes to accommodate (five on UTC Drive and two from Sesame Drive and one from Granville Square), and it may be difficult to determine whose turn it is to go. However, stop signs would at least force drivers to slow down, so if there is an accident, it’s at a much lower speed. We know a multiway stop can be done: There is a three-way stop at the Tanger Outlets in Washington, Pa., that accommodates five lanes of traffic and works well.

Whatever the solution, something must be done, and it must be done soon before someone gets seriously hurt.