Reconstructing Beechurst has taken top priority among the Greater Morgantown Municipal Planning Organization’s (MPO) agenda.
According to their website, the MPO is an organization designated to making recommendations, proposals and plans for transportation in and around the Morgantown area. The MPO’s core functions are to provide a long range transportation plan and a transportation improvement program while involving the general public.
Directed by Chet Parsons and chaired by Mayor Ron Justice, the MPO is broken into three boards, the Technical Advisory Board, Citizen’s Advisory Board and the Policy Board. The Policy Board is the decision-making board of the organization.
During the Policy Board’s last meeting on Oct. 19, 2006, a conclusion seemed to be reached by the board’s members that widening Beechurst was a main concern for the organization.
After reports from the Citizen’s and Technical Advisory Boards, members of the MPO concluded that Beechurst, which had once been put on the organization’s illustrative plan because of lack of funding, needed to be taken more seriously.
According to the MPO’s documents, Beechurst would be expanded from its current three lanes, to five lanes from Eighth Streetthrough Campus Drive, four lanes from Campus Drivethrough Hough Streetand five lanes from Hough Streetthrough Decker’s Creek.
This project would cost around $53 million said Robert Bell, the treasurer of the MPO. Bell said that this project would cause some of the other planned projects to be moved to a “wish list.”
“The need to generate savings for the Beechurst expansion means cutting two or three big projects,” explained Bell.
The Citizen’s and Technical Advisory Boards thought up the same three projects to be nixed from the recommended plan to the illustrative plan, according to Chet Parsons, the MPO director.
The first of these projects would eliminate a three lane corridor from the Mileground to Hartman Run Road, eliminating Hartman Run Roadfrom becoming three lanes to Earl Core Roadand no longer upgrading WV 705 to a four lane road from the Mileground to Stewart Street, according to MPO documents.
This cut would save around $27.3 million said Bell.
Another cut would include a proposed new airport route that would connect CR 857 to WV 7, saving $18 million.
Last, two turning lanes from Van Voorhis to Mon. Boulevard would be left out of the plan, saving $14.5 million.
An estimated total of over $50 million could be saved for the development of Beechurst.
The idea that Beechurst was a necessity grew from the public hearing meeting held on October 4.
Community members were asked to express their concerns about projects and many believed Beechurst was a huge traffic problem.
B.J. Winkler, a senior at West Virginia University, said he travels Beechurst daily in order to get to and from his downtown classes.
Winkler said that this is the first year he has had to travel every day because he now lives in an apartment behind the WVU Coliseum and understands the need for an expansion on Beechurst.
“If anything needs to be fixed, its that road because the traffic is terrible. The congestion backs up the entire road for miles,” said the daily commuter.
“Beechurst needs to be included, its possible not all three projects need to be moved but we are estimating for 15 years from now,” explained Parsons. Project estimates will change plans, he added.Parsons said concerned community members should attend will get to voice their opinions at the public meeting being held on Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at theWVU’s Erickson Alumni Center.
This meeting will inform the public about revisions to the MPO’s transportation plan and will give citizens a chance to voice their opinions about the plan.