A planning and design firm working to fix pedestrian safety issues in Morgantown presented proposals and ideas to the city and SGA this week.

intersection

The intersection of University Avenue and Falling Run Road sees heavy pedestrian and vehicle flow during the day. There is a Mountain Line bus stop in this intersection, as well.

The city of Morgantown was granted $250,000 to study last year from Alta Planning and Design, a national firm that specializes in designing and engineering new pedestrian safety projects in cities that have struggled with these issues in the past. Alta is currently designing new crosswalks, bike paths and new systems in Morgantown.

On Wednesday night, Alta presented plans to SGA during its regular meeting time.

Alta representative Phil Goff described the initial state of Alta’s plans for Morgantown. So far, Alta has been conducting analysis on the region’s topography, sidewalks, pedestrian activity and connectivity to the PRT, bus routes, along with the creek and river trails.

Goff was accompanied by Mary Jo Thompson, the University’s project manager for the Office of Strategic Initiatives and Bill Austin, executive director of the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization.

All presenters expressed the ongoing need for community involvement and support. Austin spoke of using volunteers to “take inventory” of Morgantown’s sidewalks. Goff spoke of a simpler form of volunteering, by simply completing a 16-question survey, which will be hosted on the soon-to-launch website bikewalkmorgantown.com.  

“A united community gets things done,” Thompson said. “This is a bigger issue than just the University and just the students.” 

On Tuesday night, around 70 people attended an event hosted by Alta at the Metropolitan Theatre for a public meeting and discussion on new pedestrian safety initiatives.

An interactive board was displayed where the public could point out on a map where they thought intersections or roads could use improvement and where an accident might be at an increased risk, Austin said Wednesday.

“You were able to vote on what your preferred type of improvement was, such as enhanced lighting, more crosswalks, better driver education outreach,” he said.

Austin said according to the American Community Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 13 percent of people who commute to work are walkers and one percent are bikers. 

“Those are huge numbers for an urban area. Typically, that’s about four times the national average,” Austin said. “A huge proportion of our population walks or bikes to and from work when compared to communities in the U.S.”

During the public discussion portion of the event, Austin said comments ranged from targeting distracted driving, better traffic enforcement, separated bike paths, more trails, improved crosswalk visibility and just more crosswalks in general.

Attendees also were able to view adequate crosswalks and pedestrian safety features that are in other cities and may work with some adaptation in Morgantown.

News Editor

Joe Severino is a senior Journalism major from Elkins, West Virginia. He is the News Editor for The Daily Athenaeum and interned with the Charleston Gazette-Mail summer 2018.