MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Morgantown City Council has approved the application for $8 million in grant funding as part of the United States Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Program.

The funding would support planning and feasibility studies for multimodal improvements and the roadway modernization of Dorsey Avenue and South High Street. The study would include considerations for an intersection redesign, bus facility improvements, and improved pedestrian crossings. The grant application also encompasses the design for several other improvements involving street connectors, which would all be part of the Multimodal Morgantown, Dorsey to Downtown Project.

“This project is also committing to a separated facility for bicycles and pedestrians,” said City of Morgantown Staff Engineer Drew Gatlin. “Additional facilities for other types of multimodal traffic, bus facilities, as well as upgrading the travel lanes on Dorsey.”

Designs for an overhaul of the intersection of Dorsey Avenue and South High Street would be reconstructed as part of the grant application for the RAISE Program. This would include expanded sidewalks with a goal of improving pedestrian safety and an expansion of Dorsey Avenue that would be similar to improvements considered for Green Bag Road when the RAISE grant was awarded to the city in 2022. Using information from the West Virginia Department of Highways, the city reflected an increase in traffic, and the speed of vehicles traveling down Dorsey Avenue (speed limit is 25 miles per hour) as reasons for the grant to go to the city a second time around.

“You all are probably familiar with complaints from your constituents about the level of service on Dorsey Avenue for many people walking,” said Gatlin in his presentation to council. “The DOH itself has collected data showing average speeds there exceed 35 miles per hour,” he said.

Additional connections would be considered after public engagement, planning, and feasibility studies if the RAISE grant application is accepted. Particularly, side streets that encompass Dorsey Avenue and roads around the South High Street Bridge, both of which have reported high-speeding vehicles and large amounts of tuck traffic over the years, Much like the Green Bag Road RAISE grant, Gatlin expects truck divertion efforts to also be a part of the design and study phase of the project if grants are awarded in 2024.

“South High Street, of course, we do have lots of needs there as well, you may be familiar with the truck traffic,” said Gatlin. “We’re also looking with this, at reformalizing certain truck routes, and working with the DOH to divert trucks away from the neighborhood before they even cross the bridge.”

The application for the U.S. Department of Transportation RAISE grant is one of several that the city is expected to hear back from in the next few months. Gatlin notified the council that a grant request related to White Park is also expected to have a decision made on a federal level within the next few months. Pending a decision from the U.S. DOT, the city could be in a position to have $10 million in grant funding for project designs by the end of spring 2024.

“You should hear back about this in the same timeline that we’re going to hear back about our $2 million grant that we just put in for clean-up for the rest of White Park, in May,” said Gatlin. “So it’s a very quick timeline forward,” he said.

The council also unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance designating the Norwood Fire Station as a child “safe surrender site.” The site will be supported by the use of $1.7 million dedicated to renovations for the fire station. It is scheduled to be opened for the surrender of infants aged 30 days or younger starting at the end of March.