MORGANTOWN — The Morgantown Utility Board fully supports the West Virginia Division of Highways plan to build a new road and bridge connecting U.S. 119 to the Morgantown Industrial Park.
The utility “appreciates the importance of the bridge project to our community.”
But it has concerns.
The preferred location of the project, presented by the DOH as “Alternative 3,” would connect to U.S. 119 near Scott Avenue, include a multi-span bridge across the river and tie into an improved Rail Street, which is part of the industrial park’s existing street network.
That would put the bridge about 7,500 feet, or roughly 1.5 miles, from MUB’s primary drinking water intake.
MUB General Manager Mike McNulty addressed that issue in an Oct. 10 letter to the DOH.
“We are concerned that construction activities will cause significant sediment disturbances which could negatively impact the 10+ million gallons of source water our treatment plant processes on a daily basis,” McNulty explained, noting “significant care” must be taken during construction to prevent river contamination.
MUB Communications Director Chris Dale said additional particulate in the water could require more processing but would present “no risk to the health of the community.”
The new bridge will also bring with it increased truck traffic hauling potential contaminants to and from the industrial park.
“A spill event on or near the proposed bridge poses a significant risk of contaminating the public’s drinking water supply given the proximity and quick travel time to our intake,” McNulty wrote.
In terms of source water protection, any potential contaminant within five hours’ flow time of MUB’s intake — be it along the Monongahela River or one of its tributaries — is considered inside the “zone of critical concern.”
McNulty said the location preferred for the new bridge is “mere minutes” from MUB’s water treatment plant.
He requested MUB be notified immediately of any potential contamination during construction, adding “In such an event, time would be of the essence …”
The other viable bridge location presented by the DOH, known as Alternative 1, would construct the span between the Morgantown Lock and Dam and the BFS gas station at 305 Don Knotts Boulevard.
This location would be downstream of MUB’s intake site.
Asked if this location would be preferable to MUB, Dale said “MUB fully supports the location chosen by stakeholders and our government partners.”