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Traffic study to begin next week

by Shawn Gainer

STAFF WRITER

Beginning next week, consultants for the West Virginia Department of Transportation will be conducting traffic surveys as part of a comprehensive transportation study for Harrison County.

Video cameras will be placed along Interstate 79 and U.S. Route 50 at county lines. The cameras will record license plate numbers. Then the consultants will send survey forms to vehicle owners. In a few cases, they may make follow-up telephone calls, said Marvin Murphy, District Four manager for the state Division of Highways.

Survey questions will include origin and destination of vehicles, as well as the general purpose of the trip, said Jerry Legg of the DOH planning and research division.

"We guarantee the privacy of vehicle owners," Legg said. "We'll only use the names to get an address to mail the surveys to. When we get surveys back, we won't be interested in names, just the information we can get about traffic patterns."

While the DOH has completed several studies relating to specific projects such as widening Interstate 79 between Anmoore and the Saltwell Exit, this survey is intended to provide information about traffic in the county as a whole, Murphy said.

"We do project studies based on need. This will give us a clearer picture at what we will need 10 to 20 years in the future," Murphy said. "The surveys have been done in Marion and Monongalia Counties and they were a big help. It will give us information in a fairly concise form that we will be able to share with the county commission and the development authority."

After county students return to school following spring break, consultants will also stop motorists on low-traffic roads and hand out surveys, Legg said. In late summer or early fall, they will conduct a series of public meetings in order to get further input. The consulting work will be performed by BRW Inc. of Bethesda, Md.

"It allows us to see potential problem and it allows us to see all things together, as a system," Legg said. "The ripple effect from one project may create an unintended problem. There has been a tremendous amount of growth in Harrison County and we're likely to have problems with congestion."

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