East End neighborhood officials have taken the first step in helping pedestrians cross Greenbrier Street between Charleston’s East End and the state Capitol through a plan that could include a new crosswalk and safety improvements.
The East End Main Street board of directors voted Wednesday to contribute $7,500 to the study, which will be combined with $5,000 from the East End Community Association to completely fund the work.
The study would be a first step in any improvements to Greenbrier Street, and will include a cost estimate for the work, said Lori Brannon, an East End Main Street board member who is also a neighborhood planner for the city.
Improvements along Greenbrier Street would include crosswalks at the Virginia Street intersection where none exist currently, landscaping improvements to the street’s median, streetscape improvements on the neighborhood side of the street and a slight reduction in the travel lane width in an attempt to slow down traffic.
Crossing Greenbrier Street as a pedestrian has proven to be a dangerous — even deadly — feat.
In October, an elderly woman was struck by a car and killed while trying to cross Greenbrier Street near Virginia Street.
However, the city isn’t able to do anything to the street by itself.
Greenbrier Street is technically a state road — W.Va. 114 — one of around 40 such roads in the city.
The designation means the city can’t do any work to the road unless it is approved by the state.
Fortunately for East End officials, the state is currently working on a perimeter security plan for the state Capitol, which includes streetscape work to the sidewalk along the side of Greenbrier Street closest to the Capitol, Brannon said.
The planning for the state work is being performed by GAI Consultants, a firm that has also performed consulting work for the city in the past.
The study funded by the East End groups on Wednesday will use GAI and piggyback on the state’s study.
GAI’s work for the East End groups will include a site review and survey of the area, design of the project, the creation of a final master plan and meetings with city and state officials.
The study will also include a cost estimate for the project.
Brannon said East End representatives have met with state officials to ensure the study would be able to be used and not conflict with the state’s project.
“We wanted to know it wouldn’t be a waste of our time, effort and resources,” she said.
Mary Jean Davis, a board member and at-large councilwoman, said the state was helpful with the East End’s vision for the project.
“They were very welcoming to us,” she said. “The state really opened their arms to work with East End Main Street. They understand the safety issue.”
The project as currently proposed wouldn’t include any new traffic lights and wouldn’t include crosswalks at Quarrier Street or Franklin Avenue.
Davis said the rationale behind that decision is due to Virginia Street’s direction of travel pointing into the Capitol complex and because only Virginia Street has a direct access point into the Capitol grounds.
“The other intersection really takes you into the wall of the Culture Center,” she said.
Once it starts, the study is expected to take a month and a half to complete.