After a week of consultation with experts and discussions with the West Virginia Department of Highways, West Virginia University will resume Personal Rapid Transit service to all stations beginning Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 6:30 a.m.
A rock slide that occurred on Monday, Feb. 10 on Monongahela Boulevard resulted in a large rock entering the road and a piece of that rock coming in contact with a PRT car on the track between the Engineering and Beechurst stations. Following the incident, the University chose to close the PRT route until a thorough investigation of the area could be conducted.
In this investigation, the University has examined the PRT track and also hired a contractor to assist its review of the track. Although a PRT car was damaged, the track and system did not sustain any material negative impacts and is fully operational. The damaged fence has been repaired.
The University’s analysis over the past several days has also focused on the site of the slide through another external contractor. In reaching this determination to fully re-open the PRT, the University notes that the DOH has independently reviewed the site and concluded Monongahela Boulevard should remain open.
“Our number one priority is the safety of our students,” said Rob Alsop, vice president for strategic initiatives. “Therefore, we have taken the necessary steps and analysis to feel confident the PRT is safe to operate in that area.”
Following the review, two short-term measures are being implemented by DOH in cooperation with WVU. Those include:
• The city of Morgantown has agreed to suspend the current bike path along Monongahela Boulevard, which will also prevent parking on the shoulder.
• The DOH will add additional Jersey barriers along the hillside and closer to the road to assist in mitigating other rocks from reaching the road.
Although the University believes the PRT is safe to operate between Beechurst and Engineering, the review did find that the hillside has the potential for future slides. Because experts are unable to rule out that other rock slides may occur in the future, the University has already undertaken additional analysis, including reviewing short-term and long-term solutions to reduce those risks.
“We are aware that we need to do additional work relating to the hillside, and the University, in partnership with the DOH, is moving swiftly to identify a long-term solution,” said Alsop. “While the road remains open, we are eager to correct the issue for the safety of our students and our community.”
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