Editorials, Opinion

Why does construction near WVU start after students arrive?

There is rarely a good time to rip up roads or do work on water lines, but there are certainly “less bad” times to do so — and also “really bad” times to do so. For example, doing water line work in Sunnyside that necessitated a boil water advisory and closed down one lane of Campus Drive the same week students moved in.

Granted, the Morgantown Utility Board’s work in Sunnyside occurred Monday and Tuesday and technically campus move-in was Thursday. However, a good number of students — including band members and resident hall assistants — had to arrive in Morgantown and get settled early. And while boiling water may not have been an issue for those living in apartments or rented houses, what were the students living in dorms supposed to do? It’s not like they can use a hot plate to purify their water. (Well, they can’t get caught, at least.)

Then, starting tomorrow and going into November, the West Virginia Division of Highways will have Willey Street down to one lane as it begins milling, paving and shoulder work. It’s unclear if the entire almost 2-mile stretch from Spruce Street downtown to the roundabout at the Mileground will be impacted all at once or only one section at a time.

Don’t get us wrong — we very much appreciate having freshly paved roads and functioning water systems. But that brings us around to our original point: There is no good time for construction, but there are certainly less bad times for it.

Adding tens of thousands of people already slows down traffic everywhere, but the delays are felt most keenly downtown and on the main arteries connecting WVU’s main campus to the rest of town. Throwing construction into the mix can easily turn an inconvenience into a problem for people. (There is only so much “extra time” people can allot to get across town by a certain time.)

If this feels like a yearly occurrence, you aren’t entirely wrong. Searching back through our archives to 2014 — looking specifically at August, since that’s when WVU students move in — we found articles and photos showing either MUB or the DOH starting or actively working on construction projects in or near downtown at least every other year. There were news-worthy projects going on in August 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2022.

Which begs the question: Why do MUB and the DOH wait until students arrive to do the projects closest to WVU’s campus?

It’s a good question. The likely reason is it has to do with predetermined schedules. But surely schedules can be rearranged? Perhaps MUB and the DOH would be kind enough to provide a more satisfying answer.