MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A new route is being added to the “Morgantown Healthy Streets” Initiative.
Beginning Wednesday, Oct. 6, Jackson Avenue will be closed to thru traffic from Grand Street to Jefferson Street. This “soft closure” is the fourth of the initiative, with Wagner Street, Western Avenue and Demain Avenue being added in 2020.
A petition to add the route was submitted to the city’s Engineering Department by residents on Jackson Avenue. The petition was signed by 34 people who reside on or near Jackson Avenue or who utilize the street regularly for local purposes. The signatures represent 15, or 83 percent, of the 18 homes that front this stretch of Jackson Avenue, as well as 6 other nearby residents.
“The petition process has demonstrated strong community engagement with the pilot program, and we continue to receive requests for additional Healthy Streets,” Staff Engineer Drew Gatlin said. “We encourage anyone who wishes to designate a new Healthy Street to gather the written support of their neighbors.”
The city welcomes general feedback from the community on the Healthy Streets initiative, suggestions for additional Healthy Streets or changes to existing routes. Comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The city also seeks volunteers to be Healthy Street Captains. These volunteers will serve as “Block Captains,” helping to monitor the streets, maintain signage, and report any concerns or conflicts that might arise. They may also help the city collect observational data. Citizens can visit the Morgantown Healthy Streets webpage at morgantownwv.gov/healthystreets to volunteer.
Gatlin said the city has seen a lot of positive impact on the communities that are part of the Healthy Streets Initiative.
“Every time I drive by, or I walk by one of these projects, it seems like somebody’s teaching their kid to ride a bike,” Gatlin said. “Or, people are really expressing, exhibiting behaviors that we were specifically attempting to support through the program; taking over the space of the roadway, feeling comfortable, trusting the cars would notice them and that people would be driving calmly if there were local traffic, so yeah, I mean, largely positive. We, again, had some mixed reviews but mostly, those things have died down over time when people realize that it’s, you know, although a profound change, but not leading to the negative impacts that they thought.”
Gatlin encouraged everyone who wanted to learn more about the initiative to reach out to the City directly.
“Please reach out to the office of Engineering and Public Works,” he said. “Basically, the best way to get one of these things installed on your own street, or on a street that you visit, would be to talk to the people in that neighborhood. Talk to people on that street trying to get organized and submit the petition, there’s no formal petition. And, write something up about why you think it should be installed there and how you think it would not just benefit the specific people that live there, but also in a wider neighborhood.”
“We’re really trying to dovetail these programs into other benefits as well. Most of the streets also serve as what are known as the ‘safe routes to schools’. And, they provide a nice expressway for people to get to elementary or middle or high school without getting to drive or catch the bus.”
You can reach the Office of Engineering at 304-291-7465.