PARKERSBURG - Some local officials are seeking traffic studies with the hope of reconfiguring vehicle routes in the traffic circle.
And at least one group of officials is hoping government will pay for the study and, if needed, a traffic light.
MPH Hotels, the developers of a proposed hotel at the Henry Logan Head Start Center on 24th Street, and Salter and Associates, marketers for the Park Shopping Center, are both looking at conducting traffic studies that could alter patterns in the traffic circle.
Officials are considering a study to review potential changes to the traffic circle and the ingress and egress to the Park Shopping Center. Officials have expressed interest in a traffic study and a new traffic light to allow traffic to exit the shopping center to go toward Vienna or downtown Parkersburg. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
MPH Hotels must conduct a study for possible ingress and egress off Emerson Avenue into the proposed hotel.
Salter and Associates is also considering a study to review potential changes to the traffic circle and the entrance to the Park Shopping Center. Ron Salter of Salter and Associates said shopping center owners think they may invest as much as a million dollars into the center. There is also the prospect of a big box vendor coming in the center, which benefits everyone, he said.
Officials have expressed interest in having a traffic light installed to allow traffic to exit the shopping center to go either toward Vienna or downtown Parkersburg. Right now there is only one light at the circle, allowing traffic to enter the shopping center. There is no light allowing traffic to exit.
Motorists exiting the shopping center at Gran Ranchero often try to cross three lanes of traffic to turn onto Emerson Avenue or Murdoch Avenue, northbound.
Motorists heading to Vienna often cut through the Beechwood area to catch a traffic light at 33rd Street. Mayor Bob Newell said the Beechwood detour is a headache for residents.
Earlier this month, Newell sent a letter to Howard Mullins with the W.Va Department of Highways supporting changes to the traffic circle pattern.
"Currently the city of Parkersburg has made alleys one-way to discourage traffic from cutting through the Park Shopping Center and driving through the Beechwood neighborhood, because there is no other reasonable egress north onto Murdoch Avenue.
"This solution is not working and we continue to receive multiple complaints," Newell stated in the letter to Mullins.
Rusty Roten, District 3 engineer for the WVDOH, said officials are looking at putting in a light to allow motorists to make left and right turns out of the shopping center. The change depends on what the study shows, he said.
Roten noted the study would have to be paid for by the shopping center. The study would cost about $15,000. A new traffic light - if warranted - would cost about $125,000.
"It is up to them to retain an engineering firm to do a study. We will review it to see if we agree with any modifications," Roten said.
Newell's letter also stated there are clear possibilities of a new tenant locating at the center if the traffic problem is solved.
Salter said the state did a study more than a decade ago and its results helped the traffic issues, but didn't completely solve the problem.
"The trouble is it wasn't solved. In addition it created more problems," he said.
Salter said with the pending hotel, the new CVS pharmacy and the potential for the shopping center, the area is becoming more attractive, but it's also creating traffic issues.
Roten said when he first heard of the recent proposed changes he went to the site to review it.
"I think it's doable," he said. "It comes down to who is paying for it."
Newell is asking city council to fund a proposed traffic light at the shopping center.
"The shopping center is requesting a light and the city may help pay for it," the mayor said.
However, Salter is requesting government pay for the light and the study. He said the traffic problem affects everyone.
"Why don't we come together on an impact study?"
Salter did not rule out shopping center owners paying for the study if government officials balk .
"I want to find out what is going on first. Can the city, the county, the state help us first?"
Roten said there would be modifications to the geometry of the highway and the islands would have to be reconfigured.
If traffic changes were made, Roten said DOH officials would like to extend the three lane traffic on Murdoch Avenue southbound. Currently the three-lane traffic is reduced to two at the southbound lane at 29th Street. Once motorists pass the Park Shopping Center, the road once again extends to three lanes.
"From a department standpoint we would like to continue the three lanes south," Roten said. "This is something we, as a district, have wanted and proposed to Charleston.
Roten said the three-lane modifications would be the state's responsibility and expense.
"It is not something we would expect the developer to do," he said.
Roten said if the changes can be made it would be a "win-win all around."