City Council approves “Hogback Turn” right of way
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 18:06
The Morgantown City Council has approved an ordinance to create a new right of way near the dangerous "Hogback Turn" on State Route 7.
The turn is where Brockway Avenue turns into Route 7 near Dairy Castle. The sharp turn causes problems for trucks and buses.
The turn is so sharp that most large vehicles must pass into the left lane to make the turn, while oncoming drivers must sit and wait.
The ordinance gives a 294-square-foot right of way to the West Virginia Division of Highways, who plan to move the curb back about eight feet. Trucks that had previously avoided the route, will now have easier access to the Morgantown downtown area.
A previous version of the ordinance had been submitted, but is being repealed after safety concerns were raised. The new bill "more accurately describes the warranty being conveyed with said right of way," according to the meeting minutes.
During the public hearing of the ordinance, South Park resident Renee Hernandez expressed her distaste for the bill, which would bring more truck traffic near her home.
"Why would you want to make it easier for trucks to go through South Park is beyond my understanding," she said. Hernandez said truck traffic near her home at night makes it difficult for her to sleep and that a public survey seeking opinion about the right of way was "ignored."
"I will continue to fight this battle. I think they’ve gone about this in the wrong way," she said.
Hernandez said she is circulating a petition against the ordinance, and has collected about 50 names.
Councilman William Byrne supports the right of way, but he felt safety issues should be addressed.
"I do think that there ought to be some kind of quid pro quo," he said. "If we’re going to give [The Department of Highways] land to improve for us, they should also work with us in developing a safe truck route around town."
Byrne voted against the ordinance, citing public response in the aforementioned survey.
"I think the overwhelming response was that people do not want trucks downtown, and that it would diminish their quality of life," he said. He also feels that the trucks pose a safety risk.
"We haven’t had a death yet, but it’s a question of when, not if," he said.
Councilwoman Jenny Selin, who supported the bill, assured that the city would work with the DOH to create a safe pedestrian environment along the route.
"I know there was concern about sight lines, but we should do whatever it takes to create safe crossings, even if it means flashing lights," she said.
The ordinance passed 5-2.