The Public Should Know

HOW THE OFFICIALS WOULD ENDANGER THE PUBLIC

So that the public can be more involved in shaping these decisions and public matters.

Here is some of what the public should know is going on in regard to the 705 Connector/Mileground road expansion project. As partly shown below, the government agencies tend to prefer building a four-lane 705 Connector/Mileground highway with 3 roundabouts, a grass median, and no left turns (no dicey cross-traffic). This seems to be the overall safest, least polluting, most aesthetic, and best traffic flow option.

Meanwhile in special meetings some area businesses have tended to push for a smaller, uglier median, and/or dangerous left turning lanes, and/or the more polluting and more congesting and more dangerous traffic light intersections.

Where are the special meetings for the parents of the proposed green school, as well as for the general public?

The area businessmen seem to be out of line. On the other hand, does anyone really know how roundabouts would work out? Especially with an elementary school right on top of one of them? Why does Mon Schools so desperately want to put an elementary school on what would be either a major traffic light, at a commuter and commercial traffic intersection, or there on a roundabout, which happens to be a major road design change that is untested in the area?

Put the green school on revitalized Woodburn school grounds where it much better belongs, rather than at that insane location where 705 meets the Mileground, and such questions, concerns, and dangerous plans happily grow less. How crazy is the 705/Mileground intersection? FUBAR for a school. Of late, a real zone of death even: murder in the trailer park in March, and death in traffic this past week.

And, oh by the way, Mon Schools plans to put a second roundabout on its own would-be school property, just off the state roundabout. A roundabout on a roundabout that happens not to separate car from bus traffic, we are told. Is this some kind of joke? How often are roundabouts on roundabouts built, at elementary schools no less? Where is the research and what are the implications? Are both roundabouts going to be a school zone? Why has no one so far been able to answer that basic question? Does the WV SBA-green-school grantor not care?

Who dares to be liable for the health and safety of the students at the proposed green elementary school in all this? WVU (for selling the land)? Mon Schools, for the brilliant plan? The SBA (School Building Authority) for approving the construction grant for that location? The DOH/DOT (WV Departments of Highways and Transportation) for giving the access “okay”? The City of Morgantown, within which the school would be built? Monongalia County for monitoring the road project through the MPO? Liable, why not? for any mishaps, every one and all. What a bunch of incredible finger pointing would go on then. Maybe the federal government too would be liable, since federal funds are involved in the school grant. And why could not area businessmen be liable, depending on what part of the road design they are able to “dictate”? (See below.)

It seems that everyone and everything but British Petroleum and the Exxon Valdez are involved in the FUBAR exercise of locating the green elementary school at a major commuter and commercial traffic intersection…on expensive land, with abandoned mines a mere 50 feet below. Really, this has the handiwork of the current Monongalia County School Board and superintendent written all over it. (Seen the new University High School, also built at high cost over old mines? It looks like a hulking prison; it looks worse than the campus of incarceration across town (the federal prison, FCI), and not at all like the campuses of higher education around town.)

As for the pathetically titled “green” elementary school…it’s not as if there are not better options currently available for siting such a school. The public needs to step in, soon, and make sure that one of the responsible options actually gets taken up.

_________________________________

By way of the Freedom of Information Act:

_________________________________

From: Byrne Bill [mailto:bbyrnewv@me.com]

Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 8:23 AM

To: Kelly Mike

Cc: Austin Bill; Williams Donald

Subject: Mileground

Mike:

Did not get a chance to talk you yesterday re the Mileground project. I am told the DOH is ready to move on this and I think we need to give them a green light. I have talked with Bill Austin and he said we can get this on the next agenda for our endorsement. I like Donny Williams analysis that supports the suggestion of a 4 lane with grass median and 3 roundabouts. This takes less property from the landowners than the 5 lane; and is safer than the 5 lane version; and more attractive than the “Jersey barrier” version of the 4 lane…. Obviously we need crosswalks near the roundabout at 705 especially if the school is to be built there and somewhere in the area of the car dealerships. Furthermore if the school is built there we need a sidewalk on that north side of the Mileground.

Property owners who object are not being reasonable. All those businesses were located there recognizing there was no planning or zoning or provision for adequate infrastructure. As the community grows we need to upgrade infrastructure and when you are dealing with what started out as a 2 lane road…improvements will need more space. Furthermore had the West Run/Pastureland bypass been executed…Mileground businesses would have suffered from a lack of traffic.

Let’s more this forward expeditiously….

Bill Byrne

Mayor of Morgantown, West Virginia

_________________________________

From: <dulaneyoil@comcast.net>

To: “Byrne Bill” <bbyrnewv@me.com>

Cc: “Austin Bill” <baustin@moncpc.org>

Subject: Re: Mileground

Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2010 12:20:11 -0400

I agree. When I spoke to Randy Buzzo his concern was not being able to cross with peds. and vehicles. The grass median serves one problem but not the vehicles crossing. I don’t see any way to accommodate vehicle crossing, he will need some convincing. Steve Kelly wants the state to look at the signals before they do anything else. Both of these guys own property on each side, understandably they have real concerns. I kept reminding everyone that we where all there to listen and that it was good to have all the state people at the table with them, they agreed that was refreshing. I think the meeting went very well, we had some upset people but that is understandable ( I am used to that on the school board ) they are just passionate about what they believe.

Mike

Michael L. Kelly, President

Dulaney Oil Co.

144 Dents Run Bvld.

Morgantown, WV 26501 =20

_________________________________

From: “Bill Austin” <baustin@moncpc.org>

To: <dulaneyoil@comcast.net>

Subject: Meeting with Mileground Businesses

Date: Tue, 1 Jun 2010 18:10:52 -0400

Mike,

This email is to update you on the status of the meeting about the Mileground. In attendance at the meeting were the Sec. of DOT, the DOH Planning Director, Planning and Admin Director, the Manager of the Design group, and numerous other DOH officials. Asel and Bob Bell were also at the meeting. The businessmen attending the meeting included Dave Biafors, Steve Solomon, Argyle Sheets, and [Rock] Manchin. The gentleman from John Howard was there as well (I forget his name) as well as a couple of others I did not catch their names. The meeting consisted of an introduction to the project and how we got here by DOH. DOH informed the business owners that the project is in the early stages and that many of the details the businessmen wanted are not available. This introduction followed by a heated discussion. At the conclusion of the discussion it was agreed that the business owner would be allowed to have some input into the project through concerning the Mileground project. DOH will be providing the enhanced modeling of the two alternatives in about four weeks and they agreed to share that information with the Policy Board and the MPO Committees. Bob Bell also asked that I meet with the business owners next week at Yesterdays. I agreed to this. Bob seemed to think the business owners could dictate what the MPO approves. I am concerned what this does to the Resolution the Policy Board directed us to develop.

I would appreciate your calling me to discuss this in more detail. Thanks,

Bill Austin, AICP

_________________________________

From: “Bill Austin” <baustin@moncpc.org>

To: “‘Keller, Perry J'” <Perry.J.Keller@wv.gov>

Cc: “‘Pennington, Robert'” <Robert.Pennington@wv.gov>

Subject: RE: Mileground Road Traffic Analysis Scope of Work

Date: Wed, 2 Jun 2010 16:08:23 -0400

Perry,

A couple of questions about the scope of work. Can we include an intermediate alternative for the four lane section that has a left turn bay located in the center of the corridor between 705 and Hartman Run and maybe also one bay in the northbound direction at the Yesterday’s development? Will we be looking at the impacts of the proposed school? Also, does the proposed five lane section include some remedial access management (curb and gutter, and consolidation of driveways?) Also, per our conversation I will go identify special generators and drop you an email tomorrow.

Thanks,

Bill

_________________________________

From: Pennington, Robert [mailto:Robert.Pennington@wv.gov]

Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2010 9:55 PM

To: Bill Austin; Keller, Perry J

Subject: RE: Mileground Road Traffic Analysis Scope of Work

Bill,

We are planning to do two primary alternatives: 4 lane no left turns with roundabouts and a 5 lane typical. I have talked to Tom about the left turn issue earlier today after we get the models fine tuned. We may find other things that can further enhance the two alternatives. Right now, I think we are looking at the two fundamental alternatives understanding what you mention may be a necessity.

Thanks for the input. We are proceeding ahead and hopefully can get something turned around relatively quick. I am satisfied at this point that we can at least run the models before a final decision is made.

Rob

Robert L. Pennington, P.E.

_________________________________

From: “Bill Austin” <baustin@moncpc.org>

To: <moncom@aol.com>,

“‘David Bruffy'” <Bruffy@busride.org>,

<Bellcom21@aol.com>,

“‘Bill Byrne'” <bill@byrnehedges.com>,

<dulaneyoil@comcast.net>,

“‘Don Spencer'” <dspencer36@comcast.net>,

“‘charlie byrer'” <charliebyrer@gmail.com>,

“‘Joe Fisher'” <Joe.Fisher@mail.wvu.edu>,

“‘jennifer straface'” <jenstraface@msn.com>,

<gvmayor@comcast.net>,

<mayordave@comcast.net>,

“‘Keller, Perry J'” <Perry.J.Keller@wv.gov>,

<statler4board@hotmail.com>

Cc: “‘Pennington, Robert'” <Robert.Pennington@wv.gov>

Subject: FW: Ongoing MPO Issues

Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2010 15:35:55 -0400

Board Members,

This note is to bring you up to speed on ongoing issues.

705 Connector/Mileground Widening Project-there have been two meetings since the June 1, meeting at Yesterdays Restaurant reported to you on June 2. The first meeting was held June 4 attending the meeting were WVDOH, WVU, and the Monongalia County School Board Superintendent Frank Devono. This meeting was to coordinate the activities of the WVDOH and the School Board with WVU. These discussions focused on the impact of both the five lane cross-section and the four lane cross-section under discussion with DOH. It was the consensus of the group that WVDOH could work with the School Board under either scenario by providing the new school with access to either alternative (traffic signal or roundabout) for the intersection of the Mileground and 705. The WVDOH design team and the School Boards architect will be keeping in touch to make sure their activities will be coordinated.

A second meeting was held yesterday with the Business owners along the Mileground. Commissioners’ Bell and Kennedy were in attendance at this meeting. There were no DOH personnel at the meeting. While one or two business owners questioned the need for the project, the discussion at this meeting focused on building a consensus about what the business community felt were important aspects of the Project. The primary concern expressed was that the business owners viewed the installation of a median along the Mileground as being unacceptable. The idea of roundabouts within the corridor was not necessarily objectionable to them though there are some concerns with how they would operate. Many in this group expressed a desire for DOH to do this project properly rather than to perform half measures. This group also discussed DOH’s ongoing modeling efforts. They wished to make sure that the most up to date counts were being used and that a sufficient number of scenarios were being examined especially focused on the impact of the opening of the new school and the reuse of old University High as Mountaineer Middle school this fall. The group is very interested in seeing the results of the micro-simulation modeling and the Commissioners asked if the business group could see the results of the modeling prior to presentation to the public. There was also a request that the simulation be presented in a larger meeting room.

[…]

Bill Austin, AICP

Executive Director

Morgantown Monongalia MPO

180 Hart Field Road

Morgantown, WVA 26508

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