Work on Sabraton intersection may begin soon

MORGANTOWN — Norwood Neighborhood Association President Ed Devine said he intends to document how planned changes to the intersection of W.Va. 7 and CR 85 (Green Bag Road) impact traffic in and through the Norwood neighborhood.
Devine’s comments came in response to news from West Virginia Division of Highways Spokesman Brent Walker indicating the DOH is moving ahead with plans to begin that work this construction season and will let the project out to bid in the next month or so.
Reworking that failing intersection has been on the DOH’s to-do list since at least 2015, when residents of the Norwood and Jerome Park neighborhoods roundly rejected a slate of proposed plans featuring roundabouts.
In April 2018, the DOH returned with a new plan, which includes the closure of the short connector linking Sabraton Avenue and W.Va. 7, between Hardee’s and Woodburn Shanks.
Walker said the scope of the project — with an expected price tag of $1.65 million — has not changed since then.
The DOH said the changes will improve the intersection’s level of service from an F to a C and dramatically reduce the amount of time commuters are left sitting in traffic on W.Va. 7.
“I know they’re going to improve the traffic on Route 7, but they’re going to make a nightmare of the traffic through our neighborhood,” Devine said.
Devine said closing that connector will simply push traffic about a quarter mile down Sabraton Avenue — through a one-lane bottle neck in front of Liberty Tax Service — to the short connector in front of the Sabraton Baptist Church.
“Only that connector has no traffic light. So you can imagine how that’s going to back up when traffic is heavy,” Devine said.
The only other option will be to continue on Sabraton Avenue until it connects to Sturgiss Avenue, and follow Sturgiss down to the traffic light near Sheetz. This option also includes a narrow bridge on Sturgiss, right off the triangular intersection where the two roads meet.
The DOH disagreed with the notion the changes will negatively impact traffic on Sabraton Avenue, explaining improved traffic on W.Va. 7 will lessen or eliminate the need to use Sabraton Avenue and the Norwood neighborhood as a cut-through.
While the connector between Hardee’s and Woodburn Shanks will be closed to through traffic, it will remain a right-in, right-out from W.Va. 7 as an access point for the eateries.
Hardee’s has a private entrance, but the change will mean only vehicles traveling westbound will be able to access Woodburn Shanks without turning around.
The connector will be capped at its mesh point with Sabraton Avenue with what the DOH called a “traversable curb,” which will allow emergency vehicles, like those from the nearby Norwood Fire Station, to continue to use the connector in its reconfigured state.
Morgantown Fire Chief Mark Caravasos previously expressed concerns about how the changes could alter response times out of the Norwood station due to the impact on access to Listravia Avenue from W.Va. 7 and from W.Va. 7 to Sabraton Avenue.
Devine said he’s hopeful the newly reconfigured intersection will provide the traffic relief the DOH engineers anticipate, but he plans to provide photographic evidence if it ends up negatively impacting Norwood.
“The only way we’ll have any voice is if we can start to prove the problems that they’re causing us,” Devine said.
Walker said the project will likely take the entire construction season to complete.
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