WV DOT/DOH MUST ACT NOW IN ATTEMPT TO LIMIT THE DAMAGE WROUGHT BY MON SCHOOLS AND WV SBA & BOE
As noted at the end of the previous post:
It is certainly possible though unlikely that Eastwood Elementary will open before the construction of the Mileground intersection roundabout with its school access/egress spoke. While Monongalia County BOE Superintendent Devono has repeatedly told the media that Eastwood is on track to open in late January or early February, he has all the while told BOE employees (who have stated publicly at various school meetings) that Eastwood will not open until “spring” [April, being mentioned] – thus affording the WV Division of Highways what should be ample time to build the roundabout school spoke into the congested highways. [Update: A recent FOIA request of the DOH reveals that the roundabout, including the school access/egress spoke, is now scheduled for a May 1, 2013 completion date.] [Update 2: dicey and difficult temporary access/egress now to be allowed via WV 705.] [Update 3: DOH roundabout completion date now pushed back to July.] [Update 4: First day of classes for students at Eastwood is now scheduled to be April 3, 2013 – in the teeth of major highway and intersection construction, a mere 7 weeks before the last school day – school times will begin and end 45 minutes earlier than the current schedule.]
Of course, it is ridiculous, irresponsible, and especially dangerous to move into the consolidated intersection school of Eastwood in “spring” when there would be only a few weeks of school left, about 6 weeks (if few or no snow days; the second to last week of May is the scheduled last week of school in Monongalia County for 2013). The bus routes and classroom shifting and other building logistics are daunting, and area drivers would not have time to adjust to the impending roundabout if it is even built by then. Plus, the adjacent highways’ congestion will not only remain but is expected to worsen dramatically for an additional year or two or more, both given the imposition of Eastwood and pending construction of the additional lanes on the Mileground. (Even with additional lanes across the Mileground, congestion is only expected to be reduced not eliminated. Meanwhile traffic crashes are expected to increase, at what is already a hot-spot for smash-ups.) As explained in previous posts, there is no reason of any sort, contractual or otherwise, why Monongalia County Schools could not, at the very least, delay any shift to the consolidated intersection school and every reason why it should.
Furthermore, the WV Division of Highways (DOH) should feel legal and safety obligations to totally re-vision and move the WV 705/US 119 “Mileground” intersection as far away from Eastwood as possible. To public knowledge, the DOH has done nothing in this regard. The DOH basically planned and designed the highways intersection in its known current design before the DOH had any idea that a new school would be constructed at this commuter intersection. To the public’s knowledge, with the exception of adding a roundabout spoke direct to Eastwood Elementary’s front door, the DOH has not troubled to change its unwitting early design, not fundamentally. What have been even any slight student and commuter safety and health modifications? Such failings by the DOH, in addition to the failings by Mon Schools, would create fertile ground for future personal injury lawsuits (against the DOH and Mon Schools, the WV School Building Authority, and others) based on possible, probable, and expected incidents and fallout in and around that intersection, especially in relation to students’ health and school and commuter/commercial traffic.
Why doesn’t the DOH move the WV 705/US 119 “Mileground” intersection away from the school, as far as possible, at least putting it in the cornfield on the southwest side of WV 705, the far side of the highway from the Eastwood school building and grounds? Why should that not be considered an absolute minimum alteration? And why does the DOH apparently still think that expanding the Mileground to 5 lanes in any way makes sense? Shouldn’t the 705 commuter corridor be shifted to somewhere other than a commercial district that has become the Mileground?
The expense of merely moving the 705/119 intersection from the southeast to the southwest side of 705 should be minimal. The DOH might even save money in the shift, in the present let alone in the future, given the right-of-way expenses and other severe safety and logistical problems of allowing the intersection to go in at the original spot, right by the front doors of Eastwood Elementary on the Mileground.
Monongalia County Schools and the West Virginia School Building Authority and the West Virginia state Board of Education entirely lacked the common sense to keep a brand new elementary school away from a major commuter and commercial intersection. The fault primarily lies with the irresponsible and incompetent decision-making of Monongalia County Schools Superintendent Frank Devono and WV School Building Authority Director Mark Manchin, along with the lackey and willfully ignorant county and state boards of education, which evidently serve as mindless rubber stamps to the odious.
However, the common sense and egregious failings by county and state education management do not excuse the West Virginia Department of Transportation and Division of Highways from bending over backwards to act as the first responsible and functionally professional adults on the scene, to try to make the best of a fundamentally bad situation at this dangerous intersection. The DOH needs to not only prepare 15 mph school zone speed limit flashers and signs, the DOH needs to entirely reconsider where to locate and how to reconfigure the 705/119 intersection and highways expansion by Eastwood Elementary on the Mileground.
In fact, DOH regulations would seem to require shifting the massive intersection away from the school, as noted previously:
The Greater Morgantown Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) site shows that the WV Division of Highways (DOH) right-of-way at the 705/Mileground intersection extends into what would be the Eastwood Elementary campus internal bus circle at the front door of the school to-be-built. (See below, or see page 6 of the PDF “Flyer” for the Jan. 24th DOH meeting at Easton Elementary, the DOH right-of-way boundary.)
That violates the DOH Driveway Manual Rules and Regulations for mid-size community facilities along state roads (page 36, “Internal Circulation”), which requires a minimum of 120-150 feet setback for such a feature, not a less-than-zero foot setback.
In fact, the school building itself, including the front door, would be only 120-150 feet from the DOH arterial highways right-of-way. In other words, the campus bus loop, by DOH Rules and Regulations, is supposed to be where the building is, and the building is supposed to be beyond that. Which can’t happen because there is no room, nothing but a drop-off beyond.
If the DOH allows such a violation of its Rules and Regulations, which are safety provisions, and if there is a serious accident in relation to the disregard of such regulations, then the DOH should be added to a growing list of institutions and individuals that should be held accountable for civil and criminal liability upon a calamity.
Pictured above in yellow are the current “principal arterial highways,” and their intersection: WV 705 at bottom and US 119 (Mileground Road) at right.
In red are these arterial highways pictured after their $47 million expansions to 4 lanes (WV705) and 5 lanes (US 119) in 2 or 3 years.
In purple is Eastwood Elementary, scheduled to be built then opened in about a year.
In blue is the DOH right-of-way for its highway expansion.
In pink are the planned internal campus drives of Eastwood Elementary.
In orange is the location where Sheetz has schematically designed a gas station that it is eager to build by Eastwood Elementary.
The Eastwood Elementary school site borders and extends along WV 705 and across the entire intersection with US 119 (Mileground Road) and along the Sheetz gas station intended site. The right-of-way for the DOH highway expansion covers a substantial portion of the school site close to the front and main doors of the planned school.
These facts, and more, render the new school site a sweeping violation of West Virginia state student safety and new school site Rules as we have documented extensively. The recent and predictable delineation of the DOH arterial highways right-of-way makes the violation and the potentially lethal safety risk of young students ever more clear, and it makes yet another state agency liable and culpable.
Superintendent “Traffic” Says: Trust Me! – DOUBLING DOWN ON DANGEROUS
“Crash experience is expected to increase” – DOH PREDICTS CRASH INCREASE ON 5-LANE MILEGROUND HIGHWAY EXPANSION BY EASTWOOD SITE
Warning! Hazard! – IDIOTIC AND INDEFENSIBLE SCHOOL SITING
Let’s Play in Traffic, Kids! – THE GREEN SCHOOL AS TIME BOMB
Eastwood Site Plan and Dangerous, High Traffic Surrounds