The moment your tires meet the asphalt in the City of Morgantown, you know that ride will be rough and many will think you’re driving drunk.
The roads in Morgantown, W. Va. are not a pleasant ride because they’re riddled with potholes. Some potholes you can bump right over with your vehicle while others cause you to swerve into the other lane. The sizes and depths of each vary drastically, and you often find yourself sucking in your breath if you hit one that you’ve misjudged to be small – the curse that comes to your lips is inevitable.
Unfortunately, potholes are created thanks to the weather and since you can’t petition the weather to keep the roads from getting jacked up it’s the city’s responsibility to conduct maintenance on the roads. This isn’t always an easy task when you consider how potholes are made. In brief, the formation of potholes is caused by the “expansion and contraction of ground water after the water has entered into the ground under the pavement.” Take it back to your science 101 class in middle school: when the water freezes it expands – taking up space by pushing against the pavement material – cracking and bending the asphalt until it begins to break apart. Then when vehicles drive over the pavement, the weakened material deteriorates, even more, creating the pothole.
Now, as we enter the Spring season, the roads are getting worse! Why? Think about all that salt that was put onto the roads during the winter season.
Water will freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. When salt is used, it lowers the temperature that water will freeze. This creates an artificial freeze-thaw cycle that permits more occurrences of the damaging cycle to occur. This happens more often in the spring because of the melting that takes place and because the temperatures fluctuating above and below the freezing point very frequently.
To put things into perspective, check out the graphic below provided by Summit County Engineer.
Morgantown roads have not improved since 2012. In a video produced by Ilyssa Miroshnik, Michael Ploger, and Ian Grimley back in 2012, Morgantown’s roads were still a prevalent issue. In the video you can see the horrendous state of the roads and let’s face it, not much has changed. In an interview with Terrence Moore, City Manager, he, “blames the sorry state of his city’s roads on the university’s explosive growth in recent years and the heavy traffic that results from such congestion. Since the 1960s, the university’s student population has grown from 12,000 to over 30,000.”
Here we are, 2017, and from the looks of that 2012 video not much has been done to change the tragic state of Morgantown’s roads. Of course, taxes plays a role in the maintenance of the roads. Moore mentions this briefly by stating,
The property tax rate for the city of Morgantown is listed at 2.5 percent. This is low when compared to other similarly sized university towns, such as Charlottesville, Virginia’s property tax rate, which is 4.5 percent.
Considering that students are nonresidents, they’re not required to pay taxes to the city, thus there are fewer funds being put toward fixing the roads. However, in an article written by Rachel McBride for the DA, in 2015, a solution was proposed in the form of “sin tax”. What’s a “sin tax”? The tax is “a proposal to fix Monongalia County’s roads by establishing a surcharge on alcohol and tobacco products.”
Essentially, “the sin tax would range from 10 to 25 cents per item, whether it’s a six-pack of beer, a glass of wine at a restaurant, a pack of cigarettes or a pint of liquor.” This tax seems like a probable solution due to the nature of West Virginia University being labeled as one of the top party schools. The sin tax would mean that nonresidents would be required to contribute toward fixing the roads in Morgantown or forfeit their partying habits (as if). Not surprisingly, the opposition against the sin tax was strong and the proposal died.
So where does that leave us? Frustrated for sure until we realize there’s possibly a new savior in town – Pothole Terminator
The story of Pothole Terminator broke on March 14, 2017, and this is what Kathryn Ghion had to report:
Hopefully, this new fix for potholes will pull through and make the roads better for Morgantown residents and students! The innovative Pothole terminator is cost efficient and is a solution to a permanent fix. Let’s hope it works for Morgantown, W. Va.
My name is Cayla R. Nolder and I’m a Writer/Editor for Conserve the Wild & Wonderful. Country backroads and trail riding are a few of my favorite things. Follow me on Twitter @cayla_redlon for the latest updates on Conserve the Wild & Wonderful