PITTING LOCAL OFFICIALS AND LOCAL GROUPS AGAINST ONE ANOTHER TO TRY TO EVADE RESPONSIBILITY FOR WV DOT SCREW-UPS
Update: WAJR – aka, rich man’s radio – never ceasing with its disinformation campaigns, claims that the truck issue is “dividing the community.” In fact, it’s far more accurate to say that the issue is uniting the community. The overwhelming amount of support is in favor of truck bans, truck reductions in the Morgantown core and for truck routes around the core.
We hear it time and time again, the West Virginia Division of Highways and the West Virginia Department of Transportation castigating local officials and local groups for not speaking with “one voice” regarding traffic and transportation problems and solutions. And we hear of threats from the WV DOT about withholding funds and fixes until locals speak with “one voice.” There is no “one voice” in local areas, nor should there be. There are many voices that need to be heard, reflecting many needs that should be attended to.
The heavy truck traffic in downtown Morgantown – damaging, polluting, deafening – is obscene and has been for decades. The WV DOT has been fine with it. No need for action. It’s as if Truck Routes are an alien concept to the WV DOT. It’s as if they don’t care a whit about the conditions of life made miserable and unhealthy and frightening and all around obnoxious by the heavy streams of heavy trucks through the Morgantown core.
There are not only too many industrial trucks in downtown Morgantown there are too many cars. Once the heavy truck traffic is removed and lessened, the campus-side parts of Spruce Street and High Street – at the very least – should be converted to parking and turned into pedestrian malls. A little creative roadwork would be required, but it’s quite logistically possible, and badly needed for both the urban core of Morgantown and the grown residential needs of WVU.
The WV DOT needs to be pushed in these directions, as the Morgantown city council is currently pushing politically and appears set to continue pushing through the courts. Even if the city loses in the courts, it wins, because this urgent issue will have received an unprecedented amount of proper and badly needed attention. People and agencies and organizations are moving on this issue finally because the Morgantown City Council is taking a good, and reasonable, and urgent stand on this pressing issue. Would be welcome to see the Council do so more often on other pressing issues, some larger, some smaller.
The DOT gambit of vocally pretending that local agencies and groups need to speak with one voice or else suffer the consequences is both disingenuous and disgusting, an attempt to divert responsibility from itself.
A similar case is the WV DOT screw-up and delay with relieving traffic congestion between Morgantown and I-68 – that is, on and around the Mileground. Speak with one voice or we won’t do anything (with these pathetic and dangerous state roads), scolds the DOH out of one side of its mouth, and then out of the other: But don’t push for anything we’re not willing to get behind or you might as well not speak at all because they are Our state roads after all. Speak the way we want you to speak or shut up. In effect, this is the message from the WV DOT. The Morgantown City Council has apparently heard and understood that message and appears set to take action now in the only way it can.
“No, no! there are better ways to proceed!” cry the county and the WV DOT.
Oh, really? They had their chance to prove it. They waited far too long. They proved something else entirely.
The WV DOT sure screwed up the Route 7 intersection with Greenbag Road in Sabraton – longtime standing – and has shown little or no sign – longtime standing – that it has any more competence or interest in providing for truck routes around Morgantown. It has to be forced into action, one way or another. Pressure has to be piled up. The Morgantown City Council apparently has recognized this. The Courts would be wise and beneficial to back up the Council. The Monongalia County Commission would do well to reassess and play a far more constructive role in this effort also. The state legislature has a role or two to play as well.
Also, why should truck traffic anywhere in the area be allowed to exceed the current truck weight limits set on the interstates? How badly beat up do we want the local roads to be? Where do we think so many of the horrible potholes come from? The legislature should take a hard look at truck weight limits on non-interstate roads.
The public is pushing for a better Morgantown, a better Monongalia County, a better West Virginia. Can the officials and the responsible agencies catch up?
Public agencies that want constructive change need to push for it. Public agencies content to gather crumbs tossed from above will continue to starve.