In response to citizen petitions and the continued need for social distancing, the City of Morgantown has launched the "Morgantown Healthy Streets" initiative, a pilot program to get the public active in their neighborhoods.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has caused overflow on our sidewalks, trail networks, at parks, and in other public recreation areas," said Morgantown Staff Engineer Drew Gatlin. "The Morgantown Healthy Streets Initiative is designed to give people space to spread out and comfortably recreate in their own neighborhoods."
The initiative works with neighborhoods to identify low-traffic, low-stress streets that can be further calmed using temporary traffic controls. Some streets will see soft closures, which means that only local traffic, deliveries, and emergency vehicles will be authorized to access and service buildings on those streets. Barricades and signage will be placed at the end of each street closed to through traffic.
The first of these soft closures will begin on July 15 on Wagner Road from Simpson Street to Dorsey Avenue. City engineers are monitoring for changes in traffic volume and speeds on parallel routes.
"We want to get the community involved in development of other Healthy Streets", said Gatlin. "We hope to collect feedback from citizens to help mold the initiative to the wants and needs of the community. The pilots are subject to change at any time based on feedback."
Morgantown Healthy Streets is a collaboration between the city’s Engineering Department, Traffic Commission, Pedestrian Safety Board, and Bicycle Board.
The city welcomes general feedback from the community on the initiative, suggestions for additional Healthy Streets or changes to existing routes. Comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The city also seeks volunteers to be Healthy Street Captains. These volunteers will serve as "Block Captains". Helping to monitor the streets, maintain signage, and report any concerns or conflicts that might arise. They may also help the city collect observational data. Citizens can visit the Morgantown Healthy Streets webpage at morgantownwv.gov/healthystreets to volunteer.
Image of signage to indicate soft-closure of city streets related to the Healthy Streets initiative.