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Pedestrian project along Westover’s Fairmont Road gaining momentum

While a $3.8-million project to address Holland Avenue is undoubtedly the priority for the city of Westover, a long-sought pedestrian project appears to be gaining momentum.

During the most-recent meeting of Westover City Council, city resident Gary Marlin asked council to get serious about pursuing funds for a Fairmont Road (U.S. 19) sidewalk.

“We have people walking in ditches. I see baby strollers, one wheel on the street and one wheel [in the ditch],” he said.

Marlin publicly pushed the project in an unsuccessful bid for Westover Council’s 2nd Ward seat earlier this year, but he’s not the first to do so.

Janice Goodwin, who spent a decade on Westover City Council and served as the city’s representative on the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization before her death in September 2021, had long championed a pedestrian path between DuPont Road, where Mountain Line’s terminal is located, and North Dents Run Road — the road that goes on into Granville.

That was the context in which the project was raised during the most-recent session of the MPO Policy Board.

“Janice Goodwin was an enormously important part of this MPO and I promised when she passed away that I was going to fight for her,” Monongalia County Commission President and policy board member Tom Bloom said.

Bloom asked MPO Executive Director Bill Austin if two new funding sources — the Carbon Reduction Program and the Surface Transportation Block Grant — could be used to help fund such a project.

The MPO is creating a process through which it can work with the state to identify projects and direct the infrastructure dollars, anticipated to be about $3.3 million annually through 2026.

“What we would want to do is ask Westover to put in an application and then we would go through the process we’ve outlined here,” Austin said, adding “That is clearly one that would meet probably both of the funding categories that we’re talking about.”

With or without assistance from the MPO, Marlin said the city needs to chase down the money it needs.

“You have to ask for it this year; put in a grant next year and put in the same grant the year after,” Marlin said. “Sooner or later, [the West Virginia Department of Highways] will probably fund it, but you’ve got to ask and you’ve got to keep asking.”

Westover Councilor Duane Tatar said the issue was one of several that highlight the city’s need for a grant writer.

“We think it’s needed as well,” Mayor Bob Lucci said of the sidewalk. “I will look into it further. If we need whoever it is to help us, we’ll go for it because I think every council member here agrees it’s very well needed.”

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