Planners to push drain change

PARKERSBURG – Wood County Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend approval of a proposed amendment to county land use regulations that would make stormwater drains more biker-friendly.

“This issue was brought before the county commission by the Alternative Transportation Council. The city of Parkersburg is making this change and the council asked the county commission to consider changing the county regulations; it was referred to the Wood County Planning Commission for review and a recommendation,” said County Administrator/Planning Commission Administrator Marty Seufer.

The proposal would require stormwater drainage grates and utility covers installed in any new subdivision in locations “where bicycles may be present to be bicycle-compatible and installed flush with the road surface (within 0.25 of an inch). In addition, the elevation change in swales around these drainage grates shall not be a hazard to cyclists,” according to the proposal.

Bicycle-compatible drainage grates have bars that are perpendicular to the traffic direction. Drainage grates with gaps longer than four inches in the direction of travel would not be permitted.

Seufer said the proposed change was based on a federal guideline. He noted there had been several recent accidents with injuries involving bicycle riders and the grates.

County officials said the change would not affect existing subdivisions.

When asked about the potential cost to developers, Seufer said, “I can’t imagine it would be that much.”

“Those grates can be rough,” said Planner Ralph Blair.

The proposal will now go to the county commission for action.

Kim Coram, coordinator for the newly organized transportation council, told county commissioners during a meeting in early August, after an accident involving a biker and a storm grate, plans relating to standards for grate installation to ensure they are stroller and bike-friendly were underway.

Last year the commissioners created the council to coordinate and plan area trail systems.