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KYOVA eyes safety, transit in county

Interstate planning commission KYOVA is doing its homework before attempting to improve transportation in the county with a study of safety on U.S. 52 and by examining the need for bus service.

The safety study was called for by the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and county commission in the interest of improving safety in congested areas.

Michele P. Craig, Executive Director of KYOVA, said the study quickly expanded to all of U.S. 52.

"When we started to look at that and consider growth, we realized we needed to consider that whole corridor of 52 and address more than just the obvious safety issues and try to identify other issues that might impact safety and accidents and transportation along that corridor," Craig said.

The study will include several factors such as traffic accidents, projected changes in the amount of traffic on the corridor, traffic speed and development potential.

KYOVA will also attempt to predict some of the traffic changes that might occur in the county as economic growth continues.

"You're going to see more freight over on 52 hopefully with the development of The Point, and we want to take things like that into consideration as well," Craig said.

Some of the safety solutions that KYOVA arrives at could be as simple as changing traffic signal speed or removing a signal all together, to more long-term actions such as building an overpass at congested intersections.

At the same time, KYOVA will be looking at addressing a complaint that many have with Lawrence County: The lack of mass transit.

"Obviously, it would be ideal to have more transit service in Lawrence County, and so we're going to take a look at the service that's provided and opportunities for providing services that could serve the population in Lawrence County," Craig said.

KYOVA will analyze the populations that would normally utilize buses and survey those groups or maybe even attempt a trial run of services.

The expectation is that mass transit service may become even more desirable, Craig said, in light of the rising cost of fuel.

Craig said that part of the study would involve looking at the feasibility of an existing West Virginia bus service extending their service in to Lawrence County.

"We're going to look at connecting service in West Virginia as an option, and that's not the full thrust of this study," Craig said. "But the idea is to better serve Lawrence County, and in doing that, if we can connect and use resources that are already in the Tri-State, that would be wonderful."

Both of the studies are slated to begin in October and be completed in approximately 9 months.