By John McFerrin
A threat to the Core Arboretum in Morgantown has been avoided.
The Morgantown Monongahela Metropolitan Planning Organization had been considering a proposal that would include building a bridge over the Monongahela River. The proposed bridge would have gone over or through the West Virginia University Core Arboretum.
Now the Morgantown Monongahela Metropolitan Planning Organization has selected its preferred alternative. Instead of the option that goes over or through the Arboretum, the preferred alternative is something else.
Traffic in Morgantown is difficult during the best of times and insane on days when there is a game. There are also several places around town where the roads need to be repaired or updated. To address these problems, the Morgantown Monongahela Metropolitan Planning Organization commissioned a study of transportation needs and possible solutions.
The study proposed several options for addressing different parts of the transportation problems over the next twenty eight years. It divides proposed projects into four tiers. The first tier is made up of projects that are of high priority and could be funded with existing revenues. Tiers two through four are projects that the study says would be valuable but cannot be funded. The bridge that threatens the Arboretum was a tier one project. To see the whole study go to http://i79accessstudywv.com.
The public part of the decision making has been going on since 2015. The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy commented in opposition to the Arboretum bridge option during both public comment periods. At least three hundred people as well as West Virginia University made comments opposing the option that would cross the Arboretum.
Even though it looks likely that the Arboretum has, in fact, dodged the bullet, the threat is still possible. The recently released plan choosing an option that does not cross the Arboretum is only a draft. The final report will come out later this spring. The Morgantown Monongahela Metropolitan Planning Organization will be accepting comments on the draft until February 15, 2017. Send comments to Mr. Bill Austin; Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization; 243 High Street; Room 110; Morgantown, WV 26505 or Amy.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Arboretum is 91 acres, stretching from one of the main roads in Morgantown, down a steep hill, and ending at the Monongahela River. It is old growth forest; in most of it there has been minimal disturbance of any kind. It is also a prime birding spot. 187 species of birds have been spotted there.