Time is now to suggest Hal Greer Blvd. improvements
Hal Greer Boulevard is one of four entry points to Huntington from Interstate 64. The statement could be made that it is the major one as it provides the quickest access to Cabell Huntington Hospital, Marshall University and the downtown area.
Hal Greer Boulevard also happens to be the entry point that has undergone the most change over the past three decades. Kinetic Park, the constantly expanding Cabell Huntington Hospital and redevelopment projects between the hospital and the railroad tracks have changed the character of the corridor substantially.
Now the question is whether future change should occur piecemeal or by way of a comprehensive plan. Monday night, about 40 people interested in the future of the corridor gathered at a public meeting to give their ideas of what the boulevard should look like in the next few years.
One point of consensus is that Hal Greer is not that safe for pedestrians. Although institutions and businesses front Hal Greer, just behind them are residential areas. Every improvement the state has made to help traffic flow through the area better has resulted in a wider street. Wide streets and moving traffic do not mesh well with pedestrians.
People at the meeting also said they would walk in the area more if there were more things worth walking to. The neighborhood has lacked a supermarket since a shopping plaza anchored by a Big Bear (a chain now defunct) was demolished to build more parking for the hospital. Area residents say they have to travel several miles now to buy groceries.
Monday’s community meeting was for people working on the Hal Greer redevelopment plan to gather public feedback. The study team is to examine the boulevard from 3rd Avenue to Huntington High School and release a final plan by next fall. The plan is to list goals for improvements and provide concept art of proposed changes.
The project team is composed of representatives from city of Huntington, the West Virginia Division of Highways, the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission and Stantec Consulting Services. The group has been meeting since June.
Changes along Hal Greer have worked well for some people and not so well for others. As one of the primary entrances to Huntington from Interstate 64, it’s important that Hal Greer’s redevelopment is done in a way that improves the corridor for the good of the entire city, including the neighborhoods adjoining it. The best-case scenario is that improvement along Hal Greer will spread to nearby streets, bringing beneficial change to neighborhoods that have needed it for generations.
The comment period is still open. The planning group says an online survey will influence design concepts and recommendations in the final plan. The survey asks how often people use Hal Greer and what they primarily use it for. It also asks people to rate their biggest transportation and safety concerns.
An online map lets people plot points of interest and other areas for improvements, which others may make a comment on or “like.”
People may identify intersections where they would like to see a crosswalk, areas to improve beautification, places for potential business development and possible biking trail opportunities.
The project team plans to meet with the public again in January to present concept designs and gather more feedback. To take the online survey and use the public map, visit Complete Hal Greer.com.
If you have an idea or want to voice your opinion on how the corridor can be improved, now is the time to make your thoughts known.