University Town Centre traffic lights come in at $1.5 million

MORGANTOWN — “I’m glad you guys are sitting down.” 

This is not what you want to hear when somebody is about to give you a number with a dollar sign in front of it.  

Granville Mayor Patty Lewis used the line to brace members of the Monongalia County Commission on Wednesday before revealing the lone bid to construct two traffic lights along University Town Centre came in at $1,590,900. 

That’s more than double the $600,000 to $700,000 anticipated price tag. 

Green light, indeed. 

The UTC traffic light saga stretches back to September 2021, when Lewis approached the commission about the need for two traffic lights — one where University Town Centre Drive passes between Walmart and the WVU Medicine facility, and another at the bottom of the hill, between Granville Square and Sesame Drive, which provides access to Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s and Panda Express. 

It was explained that those two intersections, particularly the one at Sesame Drive, produce the most serious accidents in Granville’s jurisdiction due to a combination of speed and congestion.   

Two months later, the commission, Granville and developer WestRidge walked away from a work session with an understanding that the cost of the lights would be split three ways between them. 

It now looks like that split is going to be north of $500,000 each. 

Lewis said the town has already put up roughly $50,000 for engineering services tied to the lights. She also said she would like to see the UTC TIF district, which is to say WestRidge, take on more of the cost. 

Regardless, the number is not a red light as far as the town is concerned. 

“It’s not a deal breaker for Granville. We’re committed. We’ve got to do it,” Lewis said. “It’s unsafe. There are accidents, and I have to imagine some of those businesses are losing revenue from time to time because people just can’t get in and out.” 

Commissioners Sean Sikora and Jeff Arnett echoed the mayor’s sentiments when asked if the price was too high to proceed. 

“From one commissioner’s perspective, no. It needs to happen,” Sikora said. “These are two dangerous intersections that need to be addressed. One way or another, we need to figure out a way to address it.”