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Mon Commission will consider funding for Holland Avenue work

MORGANTOWN — The city of Westover continues to chase down funding for its Holland Avenue project.

It now looks as if the Monongalia County Commission will consider providing at least $125,000 for the work, which will address about 2,000 feet of Holland Avenue, including failing sanitary sewer and stormwater lines beneath the street’s surface and the large retaining wall that runs along its lower portion.

Kylea Radcliff, project manager with Thrasher Group, said getting the commission on board is critical for two reasons.

One, the city is currently about $1.6 million short of the project’s $3.8 million estimated total. Westover plans to use all of its $1.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act dollars for the project. The sewer component will also likely involve a rate increase for customers of the city’s sewer department.     

Two, the commission’s backing will carry weight with the state. The city is pursing Economic Enhancement Grant dollars out of the $200 million set aside by Gov. Jim Justice.

“That county contribution would be acknowledged as a sort of support for that project and the merits behind it,” Radcliff said.

The commission previously said it would like the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization to explore whether a small percentage of the millions in Roads to Prosperity money promised to Monongalia County for a now-shelved “northern bypass” project could be moved to Holland Avenue. Commission President Tom Bloom said the state has been non-responsive on that front. 

The commission reiterated its belief that the DOH should be investing more than the $300,000-$400,000 in paving work it has promised once the project is complete.

“The 800-pound gorilla in the room is why can’t DOH come up with more dollars,” Commissioner Sean Sikora asked.

After all, Commissioner Jeff Arnett added, Holland Avenue (U.S. 19) is ultimately the state’s responsibility.

“They’re responsible for paving that road anyway, but they’re acting like they’re giving you something,” Arnett said. “That road is an abomination right now.”

Westover Attorney Tim Stranko agreed and said it will only get worse as the DOH won’t touch it now that this project is on the horizon.

As for why the DOH won’t invest further in the overall project, Stranko said the state points to the city’s failing infrastructure beneath the road as the ultimate cause of the crumbling road surface regardless of the amount of traffic it handles.

“We’ve done our best with that argument, commissioners,” Stranko said.

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