Jan. 23—MORGANTOWN — In September 2013, as the city of Morgantown was completing a seven-year streetscape project addressing lighting, sidewalks and other pedestrian amenities on High Street, it had already identified the target of the next round of upgrades—Walnut Street between Spruce and High.
By January 2014, the city had received $350, 000 in Federal Highway Administration funds and tapped AECOM for $143, 150 to design and engineer the improvements.
But one delay ran into another, and the project never got rolling.
Until this year.
But first, Pleasant Street.
Morgantown Communication Specialist Hollie Gregory said the city is reallocating Walnut Street project funds to help cover a $1, 478, 524 Pleasant Street streetscape project spanning three blocks, from University Avenue to Spruce Street.
That project will include the construction and repair of sidewalks, tree pits and pedestrian-scale lighting and should be in progress by this summer, according to Gregory.
The Pleasant Street work was initially funded at $780, 000 through the West Virginia Division of Highways Transportation Alternative Program grant. In March 2021, the city accepted additional TAP funds, including $773, 609 meant for the Walnut Street work.
“As funds have been reallocated from Walnut Street to Pleasant Street, the timeline for the Walnut Street project has been readjusted, ” Gregory said. “The city is working with the DOH to perform half-width construction on Walnut Street in 2023, with the rest of the project to be completed in 2024, once additional grant funding has been secured.”
The Walnut Street work will be similar to that of Pleasant Street, with the added complication of addressing underground vaults located beneath the sidewalks.
During Morgantown City Council’s most recent regular meeting, Deputy Mayor Danielle Trumble said she’s heard from multiple Walnut Street business owners with concerns, particularly in the days following a Jan. 15 stabbing on the block in question.
“They would really like us to push the state to try to move that Walnut Street streetscape project up, ” Trumble said. “They have a lot of safety concerns, mostly related to lighting issues. It’s a very dark street at night and some nefarious activity happens.”