November 29th, 2006 06:05 EST
MPO Begins Thinking Outside the Box
Members of the Greater Morgantown Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) are beginning to “think outside the box” about solutions to Morgantown’s traffic problems.
In the future motorists in Morgantown may see police officers directing traffic on a regular basis much like how traffic is set up after West Virginia University home football games.
Recently the MPO discussed ways to relieve the city’s traffic congestion in the short term rather than in the form of a project that may take 30 years.
The current long range transportation project is proposed to expand through the year 2030 but members of the MPO recognize that Morgantown has serious traffic problems that need immediate attention. During a MPO Policy Board meeting on Oct. 19, members decided to start taking action on a possible short term project that may be implemented within the next year.
“We are coming up with sources we can do tomorrow instead of 5 years from now,” said City Council member Don Spencer.
Spencer said that having police officers directing traffic similar to what is done after a home football game may be the city’s answer to congestion.
The plan would call for officers in prime traffic locations between peak traffic hours such as 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
On Beechurst, for example, two to three traffic lights may be shut down and an officer would direct traffic. Some side roads may also be shut down to funnel traffic around the city and keep it moving.
An officer would also be placed in busy intersections to keep traffic from blocking these streets.
Spencer said that in order to make this happen the Morgantown City Police and Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department would need to work together.
Mayor Ron Justice said the city would need to set aside money to hold one or multiple officers between these peak hours.
Using traffic control is expensive according to Spencer who said that between $6,000 and $8,000 is spent on each home football game. During these games, 10 to 12 officers work for about 4 to 5 hours.
Spencer said that a large staff is needed and between the equipment needed such as road blocks, the plan can get pricey.
Justice said, “The bottom line is we may just have to bite the bullet and hire four more bodies.”