W.Va. 7-Green Bag Road intersection in Sabraton still bone of contention for Jerome Park residents

Scott Anderson, proprietor of Classic Furniture, at 1357 Sabraton Ave., said despite the assurances from West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) officials, he’s not convinced the state’s plans for the intersection of W.Va. 7 and CR 857 (Green Bag Road) won’t negatively impact business.
Anderson was one of more than a dozen residents and business owners who spoke out against the project when the matter appeared on a recent Morgantown City Council agenda. Council took the issue up in consideration of a purely symbolic resolution of support for the DOH plan. After hearing from residents and DOH District 4 Engineer Donny Williams, council opted to take no action.
Anderson told The Dominion Post Williams did little to ease his concerns.
“Obviously, I was a little disappointed,” Anderson said. “Particularly because it sounds like it’s a done deal.”
Williams said the plans, funds and needed rights-of-way are in place to get started.
The sticking point is the planned closure of the short connector that links Sabraton Avenue and W.Va, 7 between Woodburn Shanks and Hardee’s. There will still be right-in, right-out access to the connector in order to access the eateries, but it will be closed to through traffic with a traversable curb where it meets Sabraton Avenue. The curb will allow emergency vehicles to pass over it.
Williams explained that the intersection changes are needed and just one of the fixes the DOH is looking to ease congestion on W.Va. 7 through Sabraton, a stretch that sees more than 18,500 vehicles daily and quickly backs up. He said a right turn lane near WesBanco to access Hartman Run, an additional eastbound lane out to I-68 and traffic signal adjustments are also desired and will be programmed, designed and constructed as funding is available.
“I know there’s an overall plan that they have and it may work better when it’s all done, but that may not happen in our lifetime,” Anderson said.
Among the concerns voiced by Anderson and others is the fear of how closure of the connector will impact trucks delivering goods to his store and the nearby Richwood Mini Mart. Because heavy trucks can’t traverse the short bridge on Sturgiss Avenue behind Fawley Music, they will have to use the short connector near United Bank, across from BFS. Anderson said he believes an 18-wheeler will be too long to use that access point without impeding traffic on W.Va. 7. Further, he noted, the trucks will have to pass through the one-lane “pinch point” in front of Liberty Tax Service.
“I just don’t think it’s going to work,” he said. “I think this whole thing is going to cause massive problems.”
Williams said it’s the current setup that’s not working. He explained that the intersections at W.Va. 7 and CR 857 and W.Va. 7 and the unnamed connector are both at a D level of service and will continue to get worse until something is done. He also said the DOH has ensured trucks will be able to access the businesses using the connector near the bank.
Williams went on to say people using Sabraton Avenue and the connector to bypass traffic is severely hampering traffic flow through the entire corridor.
“The unknown corridor beside Hardee’s is absolutely disrupting all the traffic flow in that area,” he said. “It’s not the local traffic that’s destroying the whole world, it’s the bypass traffic that’s coming in at peak times. People are using your local roads, and you know it better than I, to bypass Route 7 and get to that light, make a left and get to I-68.”
Information provided by the DOH indicates that it currently takes an average of nine minutes to drive the 1.4 miles from Hartman Run to I-68 during the evening rush. With no changes, Williams said, that will jump to 15 minutes within 20 years. It was also explained that more than half of the accidents along that corridor are low-speed, rear-end type collisions that are a result of congestion and the numerous business entrances along the route.
The intersection has been on the DOH radar dating back to 2015. Plans presented at that time, including a potential roundabout, were also rejected by residents of the Norwood and Jerome Park neighborhoods.
Tweet @DominionPostWV. Email bconley@dominionpost.com

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