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Morgantown gearing up for ‘rapid response’ pedestrian projects

MORGANTOWN — Morgantown Staff Engineer Drew Gatlin said residents across the city will see a slate of small, relatively inexpensive pedestrian improvements implemented in the coming months. 

Speaking before Morgantown City Council, Gatlin explained this will be considered “year zero” of a concerted, annual effort by the city to address sidewalks and pedestrian infrastructure.  

The plan is to utilize no more than half of council’s $1 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation for sidewalks on these “rapid-response projects” while larger projects are under review.    

“We want to make sure we have enough money to complete the planning process and serious engineering level plans for complicated first-year projects after year zero, which this is year zero,” Gatlin said.   

These rapid-response initiatives were selected by pulling the top 93 (of some 750) projects identified in the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization’s 2020 Regional Bike and Transportation Plan. 

Then Gatlin, working with the Morgantown Traffic Commission and Pedestrian Safety Board, began sorting and ranking the list using specific criteria: Cost — the whole group should stay under $500,000; visibility — the projects need to be in high-use areas and represent every ward in the city; risk — will the work be reliant on someone else for property or approval? 

The projects atop the list include: 

  • Traffic calming and wayfinding at the entrance to and within the South Hills neighborhood. 
  • A crosswalk, sidewalk and other improvements on Eureka Drive, at the Wiles Hill Community Center. 
  • A contraflow bike lane between the sidewalk and a parking lane on Prospect Street between University Avenue and Willey Street. 
  • A new crosswalk with rectangular rapid flashing beacons and a traffic calming bump out at the intersection of Dorsey Avenue and Wagner Road. 
  • A new sidewalk on Oakland Street between W. Everly Street and Harding Avenue. 
  • Upgraded pedestrian connection with signage, lighting and pavement between Selwin Street/Congress Avenue and Lawnview Drive. This is part of the city’s safe route to school infrastructure. 
  • Upgraded pedestrian connection between Baldwin Street and the area near Panera Bread and Wendy’s, off Patteson Drive. This was formerly part of Rawley Lane. 

Most, but not all the projects included on the list, can be completed without at least some cooperation from the West Virginia Division of Highways. 

There are two notable exceptions. 

The first is a new crosswalk with rapid flashing beacons on University Avenue at Junior Avenue and Mulberry Street. 

Currently, the stretch of University Avenue from Patteson Drive through Star City has no controlled intersections. 

“We’re hoping the DOH sees the light when we provide them some preliminary designs and basically offer to pay for this,” Gatlin said, adding “One of these intersections we want to have controls at.”   

Another high-priority project requiring DOH approval is a crosswalk with rapid-flashing beacons, or even a raised pedestrian island, at the intersection of Brockway Avenue and Kingwood Street. 

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