Editorial: Hal Greer corridor improvements take major step forward | Opinion

Hal Greer Boulevard is one of the major entry points to the city of Huntington, and its importance has grown along with that of Cabell Huntington Hospital and Marshall University.

The street as it is now was designed to move traffic in and out of Huntington, and it has done that job reasonably well over the years. The problem has been that Hal Greer Boulevard can be a problem for pedestrians and bicyclists. But that is about to change.

Last week, local officials said work is imminent on correcting many of the problems the street has, in particular the part from the railroad underpass south toward Meadows Elementary.

Engineering work should be completed by spring 2021 and construction is slated to begin in summer 2021, said Chris Chiles, executive director of the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission.

The plan calls for realigning portions of the roadway, widening sidewalks, installing of new lighting, reconfiguring traffic signals, eliminating two traffic signals, building a pedestrian crossing near Cabell Huntington Hospital and adding a two-way cycle track, which will be protected from traffic by additional parallel parking.

“The Corridor Management Plan is essential to the future development and resiliency of our region,” said Chris Chiles, executive director of the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission.

Chiles said the plan will make it safer for all users of the corridor, including pedestrians and bicyclists. He said it also addresses stormwater issues.

“We expect it to be completed sometime in the fall to winter of 2022,” he said.

The estimated cost of the project for engineering, design and construction is $9.93 million. More than 80% of the cost will come from KYOVA through federal Surface Transportation Block Grant Program funds, according to Chiles. The remaining matching funds will come from the city of Huntington, he said.

Tonia Kay Page, the city councilwoman for the Fairfield area in District 5, said there were three priorities for the community.

“The safety of our children crossing the street was No. 1,” she said. “They are supposed to be widening the sidewalks, they are supposed to redo the traffic lights, and they are also supposed to put better lighting in our area because this is a main road. Sometimes when you are coming in, it’s hard to even see where you are at. Those were the three main things we looked at, and now that they are getting done we are happy because it will be safer to walk up and down 16th Street.”

Mayor Steve Williams summed it up well in his comments Wednesday.

“It is only fitting that Hal Greer Boulevard, which is the main artery to downtown Huntington and Marshall University, receive needed improvements to enable and support the coming Fairfield community revitalization so that it is safer for all users.”

Roads are for more than traffic. They are for the well being of all members of the community. Progress on the Hal Greer corridor improvement plan is a good step forward for the entire city.

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