DOUBLING DOWN ON DANGEROUS
May 6th, 2010: “When The Dominion Post asked [Monongalia County Schools Superintendent Frank Devono] if he was concerned about [Eastwood Elementary] school traffic traveling through the [impending WV705/Mileground] roundabout, Devono said he’d never viewed it as a concern.”
The vast majority of people have expressed a very different view. Various local residents and officials quoted in the media –
- Former City Council member Don Spencer said: Mon Schools’ original Eastwood traffic plan would “choke the road.”
- Former City Council member Charlier Byrer said: “The only pedestrians on the Mileground are dead ones.”
- Melissa Levine: “It’s going to be a mess up there.”
- Attorney/Professor Bob Bastress: “People think it’s crazy. Parents will not allow their children to walk or ride bikes to school. It would be like saying, ‘Go out and play in traffic.’”
- Judy Sheers: “[A] concern…shared among many parents is traffic. ‘The location already has a lot of traffic and with a new school here it could become a problem.’”
- Student Abigail Lemine: “I just don’t like where [Eastwood Elementary school site] is located. There is really bad traffic.”
- Morgantown Pedestrian Safety Board Chairman Christiaan Abildso: “They’re [DOH] turning it [the Mileground] into Patteson [Drive], and I think Patteson is one of the most dangerous corridors in Morgantown. The Police are there every other day [for crashes]. … It’s just not safe.”
- Morgantown Bicycle Board Chairman Frank Gmeindl: “From a safety factor, it’s clear that having a median is safer.” [Instead, the DOH plans to widen the Mileground from 3 lanes to 5 lanes to accommodate business interests instead of widening the corridor to a still dangerous 4 lanes with a median.]
A Dominion Post study revealed the WV705/Mileground intersection to be one of the most dangerous intersections in the area for crashes.
The West Virginia Division of Highways final report on the WV705/Mileground expansion states that the current 5-lane plan does not “eliminate the most severe crash types – head-on and right-angle crashes” and that “Crash experience is expected to increase” while “Capacity [congestion] issues at intersections may remain.”
State Board of Education Rule 6200 202.06 (“School Site Planning…[and] Location”), states that “for the safety of students” new school sites must not be located near (let alone adjacent to and engulfed by) “hazards and undesirable environments, such as…arterial highways, heavily traveled streets, traffic and congestion…noise…[and/or] situations where a combination of factors such as those presented above could contribute to the possibility of human entrapment.” WV705, the Mileground, and their intersection at and around the Eastwood site combine all the prohibited features above.
State Code §18-5-13, which is state law: Each “county board” of education is “subject to…the rules of the State Board” – including Rule number 6200 above.
The West Virginia Supreme Court: “Of course, an agency must follow and apply its rules and regulations in existence at the time of agency action” (Appalachian Power v. State Tax Department of West Virginia; 1995).
No matter! Superintendent Traffic has stated repeatedly, no matter all these public concerns and prohibitions, he has never viewed traffic at the Eastwood site as a concern. Trust him. And trust all the other traffic-and-crash-oblivious officials. Don’t trust yourselves. Don’t trust your neighbors. Don’t trust the DOH reports. Don’t trust state student safety mandates. Trust the Superintendent and the officials who want that school in that traffic. With no concern. None.
And see what trusting Superintendent Traffic and the other unconcerned officials gets you. It gets you Eastwood Elementary on the Mileground: an immediate mess, and a disaster in the making.
Of course, as we’ve long documented, these irresponsible officials have not been trusted, and properly so. They have been vigorously opposed by many people. And for good reason, the most urgent reason of all.
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