Access road will promote visibility, says WVSOM president

Posted on June 12th, 2014

The (June 8, 2014)

LEWISBURG — Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series detailing the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine’s master plan.

As the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine proceeds with Phase 1 of its 10-year Facilities Master Plan, one of the most visible changes will take place one block over from campus, on Route 219.

Midway between existing road cuts on that highway for Silo Lane and Greenbrier Road, a new cut is planned as the western terminus of an accessway that will run from 219 to the crenelated facade of the medical school’s Main Building “B.”

Described by Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester as an effort by school officials to provide a “grand entrance” to their campus, the access road will provide “greater visibility” for the school, WVSOM President Dr. Michael Adelman acknowledged.

But, in an interview with The Register-Herald, Adelman protested the characterization of the roadway as a grand entrance. “That’s a misperception,” he maintained, saying the only reason for construction of the new road is to make the campus easier to find.

“It’s hard to give directions to someone unfamiliar with Lewisburg’s streets,” Adelman said, noting that prospective students, as well as visiting family members, at times have difficulty navigating their way into campus.

Denise Getson, WVSOM’s director of marketing and public relations, seconded Adelman’s assertions, saying, “The school is hidden behind trees and housing. We hope the access road will make us easier to find.”

As it currently sits, the campus is roughly bounded by Lee Street, Greenbrier Road, Silo Lane and Dwyer Lane.

Both Getson and Adelman offered assurances that there are no plans to close Silo Lane, a concern that was raised by neighboring property owners at a recent Lewisburg City Council meeting.

Those same property owners also expressed consternation about the project’s impact on the small WVSOM-owned park which the new access road will bisect. That park is sited in one of the region’s many natural sinkholes, prompting questions about storm runoff and drainage issues.

“We met with representatives of Terradon (an engineering firm) early on in this process,” Adelman said. “We are obtaining permits for injection wells to help the park drain more efficiently — to make the park better.”

He said the injection wells will be the first improvement done on the park land in the implementation of the Facilities Master Plan. The drainage control project is an essential component of construction of the access road, Adelman stressed.

Materials excavated in the site preparation for construction of a new Student Activities Center on the Greenbrier Road side of campus will be used to fill the curving path that the access road will take from Route 219 to Lee Street, Adelman said. A small amount of fill material has already been moved to the park side of Lee.

The school’s president said he expects the road construction project to be completed in a year’s time.

The new access road will also require that the state Division of Highways extend center turn lanes on Route 219 farther south than their current terminus, to minimize the possibility of turning vehicles disrupting traffic flow on the busy highway.

City sidewalks that were built recently with grant funding will also be disturbed, Adelman acknowledged, but quickly added that the issue had been addressed even before the sidewalks were installed.

“The mayor came to us and asked for a right-of-way at the park for installation of the new sidewalk,” Adelman said. “I reminded him that the access road would be going in soon, and we reached an agreement with him that we would re-do the sidewalk after the road is completed.”

The current sidewalk dips down into the park basin. Adelman said the replacement will be on a higher grade, closer to Route 219. And, he said, although the park will be diminished in size, it will continue to offer the amenities — walking paths, benches and foliage — that the school put in place years ago.

“We want to make sure we are a good member of the community,” Adelman said. “We always have tried to do that.”

By Tina Alvey