Group will issue recommendations

PARKERSBURG – A group studying the Camden Avenue and Division Street intersection will present its final recommendations on improvements to the area at a meeting in February.

Parkersburg was selected last year by the West Virginia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects to participate in a design and visualization study looking at land-use and planning strategies “to improve the quality of life and economic development” in the area, said Rickie Yeager, development director for the city. The recommendations will include not only the intersection itself, but Camden Avenue from Division to Pike Street and Division Street from Camden to West Virginia 95.

Recommendations could touch on anything from improving traffic patterns on the heavily traveled roads to pedestrian and bicycle concerns to landscaping strategies to control stormwater, Yeager said.

Representatives of the group came to the city last year to get input on the project and study the area firsthand.

“They walked the project area. So they are very familiar with what the issues are,” Yeager said.

The intersection is primarily geared toward motor vehicle traffic, he said, with no crosswalks to help pedestrians navigate the busy area.

“It was built to move cars … quickly,” Yeager said.

Surrounding areas could benefit from the recommendations the group makes, he said, since drivers sometimes cut through nearby neighborhoods to avoid heavy traffic.

Mayor Bob Newell said the area is part of the city’s business district and has seen a good deal of development in recent years, with the addition of Dunkin’ Donuts and the construction of a new Speedway gas station and a Camden Clark Medical Center facility. And Yeager said traffic could increase as oil and natural gas activity move toward the area from Doddridge and Ritchie County.

“That is the only exchange off of Corridor D into the City of Parkersburg,” Newell said.

The plans offered by the architects’ group could serve as the basis for zoning and land use policies for the area and a starting point to apply for grants to complete projects there, Yeager said. Newell noted the state ultimately owns those roads, but the city would want to be actively involved with any improvements there.

A date for the meeting has not been set, but property owners in the area will be notified, Yeager said. The meeting will be open to the public.