UPDATE: Morgantown installing pedestrian safety improvements at key locations

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Multiple auto-pedestrian accidents in recent years have led Morgantown officials to take action. Work was finished Friday on the most recent round of projects aimed to keep pedestrians in the city safe.

Rumble strips were installed this week near the intersection of University Avenue and Falling Run Road. The strips are one of several new measures geared at improving pedestrian safety at intersections across Morgantown with high pedestrian/vehicle interaction. (WDTV photo)

City, county and university officials are working together to implement additional safety measures throughout the city.

The features are now in place just as WVU students move back in and foot traffic picks back up around the campus.

The challenging part City Manager Paul Brake says is educating drivers to stop in those areas when people want to cross the street.

"There's a bit of vigilance that's needed on everyone's part," Brake said. "Not only for motorists but also for people who are walking. They do have the right of way under state law, but anyone walking through those crosswalks, they need to make eye contact with the motorist and make sure they're paying attention."

Brake said information on the new crosswalk locations is being sent out to WVU students as they return to campus.

One of those students, junior Economics major Kenneth Ogalo, offered some advice for navigating the city streets safely.

"Always watch where you're about to cross," Ogalo said. "Walk in groups. That's really important. Never just go out by yourself at 2 a.m."

While the city is working on streets it has control over, local officials are still working with the DOH to improve state-operated roads that have had pedestrian accidents the past two years, including on Patteson Drive and Mon Boulevard.

"Since it does involve those other agencies outside our control, we need to have their cooperation along the way," Brake said. "I think there's a commitment they've lent previously and will continue to do so."

Pedestrians and drivers traveling in Morgantown will notice some changes at several intersections throughout the city.

The city of Morgantown says that public works crews will install new pedestrian safety equipment at three intersections over the next week to alert drivers of pedestrian crossings.

The intersections at Falling Run Road and University Avenue, Grant Avenue and Campus Drive and along University Avenue near McDonald's and Pizza Al's were identified as priority intersections due to high volume of pedestrian and vehicle interaction, according to the city.

The city says that they are installing rumble strips, reflective signs, yield lines on the road and yield to pedestrian signs in the middle of the roadway.

The city, Mon County and West Virginia University formed a partnership earlier this year and developed a plan with an immediate goal to improve pedestrian safety at the three locations, according to the city. Their goal is to create a pedestrian friendly community.

“We want Morgantown to be a walkable city and creating a safe environment for pedestrians is one of the city’s top priorities,” said Morgantown City Manager Paul Brake. “Creating a safer environment is why this partnership was formed. We’re seeing the partnerships commitment to pedestrian safety with the installation of safety equipment at these high-volume intersections.”

The city says the group's plan has both short and long-term goals. The long term goal is centered on three pillars of pedestrian safety-- education, engineering and enforcement. The short term goal is focusing on projects that can be accomplished in a short time-frame and have an immediate impact on pedestrian safety.

“This partnership just makes sense,” said Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom. “We have to make sure that our urban centers are safe for pedestrians and with the installation of these improvements we are doing just that; in one of our most dense urban areas.”