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Residents asked to prioritize highway projects in Berkeley, Jefferson and Washington counties

A federally-designated planning organization is using the survey to update its long-range plan

July 17, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Should the widening of W.Va. 45 to six lanes between South Queen Street and Interstate 81 in Martinsburg be a priority among the Eastern Panhandle’s road improvement needs?

What about the Eastern Boulevard project to build a four-lane divided road from Antietam Drive to Md. 60 in Hagerstown?

Area residents are being encouraged to share their opinions on the importance of those and dozens of other highway projects proposed in Berkeley, Jefferson and Washington counties in an online survey launched last week by the Hagerstown/Eastern Panhandle Metropolitan Planning Organization, or HEPMPO.

The deadline is Aug. 10 for residents to complete the survey, which the federally-designated planning organization is using to update its long-range plan.

Given budget constraints, it is critical that residents take the opportunity to indicate what they feel the transportation priorities should be for the area, said Matthew Mullenax, HEPMPO’s acting director.

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“With new federal legislation and funding questions we need to consider projects carefully,” Mullenax said in a news release.

Any highway or transit project in the three-county area that receives federal funds must obtain approval from the metropolitan planning organization, according to Mullenax.

The five-part survey first asks participants to indicate which of 10 general priorities listed are most important to them. The choices include Bike and Pedestrian Improvements, Land Use Planning, Environment/Sustainability, Maintain Existing Highways, New Road Construction, Movement of Freight and Rail and Bus Transit.

Through an interactive map, those surveyed are then asked to designate whether specific highway widening, intersection improvement or new construction projects are a priority, or whether they don’t want them. Those surveyed also can comment on the individual projects that dot the zoomable map.

A second interactive map invites feedback on changes and additions to bus and transit services, as well as park-and-ride facilities. Respondents are asked to drag icons onto the map to show where they would make the changes or additions.

Survey participants also are asked to provide comments on existing trails and bike routes or drag an icon onto a third map to show where they would like to see a new trail added. 

At the end of the survey, individuals have the option of providing their name, email address, age, gender and additional comments, including possible roadway projects not previously mentioned.

Mullenax said the public input collected will help show whether views on what transportation improvements are needed have changed since the long-range plan was last updated four years ago.

If a lot of people say a particular project isn’t a priority anymore, that will factor into revisions of the long-range plan, according to Mullenax.

Residents with questions or wanting additional information may contact the Hagerstown/Eastern Panhandle MPO via email at info@hepmpo.net or call 240-313-2081.

The project is online at www.hepmpo.com. Any written comments can be mailed to HEPMPO, 33 W. Washington St., Suite 402, Hagerstown MD 21740 or submitted by email.

To take the survey

Go to hepmpo.metroquest.com 


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