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Morgantown pitches street maintenance proposal to DOH

When it comes to federal, state and county routes in the city of Morgantown, some are obvious — Monongahela Boulevard (U.S. 19), High Street (U.S. 119), University Avenue (CR 55), Patteson Drive (W.Va. 705). 

All major thoroughfares and all completely off limits for city maintenance crews. 

But there are a long list of smaller neighborhood streets in that same category that aren’t so obvious — Windsor, Koontz, Munsey and College avenues and Drummond, Carnege, Eljadid and Burroughs streets. 

Then there are what you might call “guilt by association” streets — think Brockway Avenue and Walnut Street. The city can’t touch them, but that doesn’t mean city hall doesn’t hear all about them. 

During a recent open house at West Virginia Division of Highways District Four headquarters, in Bridgeport, Assistant City Manager Emily Muzzarelli suggested it may be time to reevaluate the city/state relationship when it comes to street maintenance. 

“We did discuss with District 4 and Central Office representatives how we could be better partners in maintaining the roadways under the state’s control,” Muzzarelli explained.   

“We suggested the idea that the City would take over complete ownership of certain smaller ‘neighborhood’ streets through their state road abandonment program. We also discussed agreements in which the City could utilize materials (like cold patch or salt) to patch potholes and complete winter maintenance on state roads.”  

The city actually has, in certain circumstances, stepped in to address issues on state-maintained roads. 

For example, in the spring and summer of 2019, a hole on Stewart Street across from Shorty Anderson’s Auto Service deteriorated to the point that drivers were edging over into oncoming traffic to avoid vehicle damage. 

Despite the hole not only being on a county route, but just outside city limits, the city patched it in the interest of public safety. 

The Dominion Post asked if the city would be reimbursed for its efforts. A a representative of the DOH said no. 

Muzzarelli noted the money aspect remains a sticking point. 

“Currently, the DOH says that they don’t believe paid arrangements are possible under current state laws,” she said. “Other states have very successful programs between their state DOT and municipalities, which we believe would be a great pilot.” 

Asked to weigh in, Joe Pack, DOH Chief Engineer of District Operations basically said “put it in writing.”

“WVDOH is aware of the city’s verbal proposal at this meeting and are willing to review any formal written agreements upon submission from them, or any municipality or organization.”  

There are about 100 miles of city-maintained streets in Morgantown. The city utilizes a portion of its $3 weekly fee charged for working within city limits to pave and maintain approximately 10-15 miles of streets annually.

Despite the county route designation, the county owns and maintains no roads. All roads that are not owned by a municipality are maintained by the state. 

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