WINFIELD -- Most of Putnam County will no longer be grouped with Kanawha Valley for traffic study purposes, according to Regional Intergovernmental Council Executive Director Mark Felton.
Felton addressed the Putnam County Commission at its regular meeting Tuesday to make sure commissioners are aware of how changes in designated urbanized areas from the last U.S. Census will affect traffic studies in the county.
Scott Depot lost its urbanized area designation after the last census, which means that the urbanized areas from Teays Valley to the Putnam-Cabell county line are no longer contiguous to the urbanized areas in the Kanawha Valley.
Winfield, Eleanor and points north in the county are still considered part of the Kanawha Valley region, but the major traffic corridor, Interstate 64, is not.
The Regional Intergovernmental Council, based in South Charleston, is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Kanawha Valley region, and one of its jobs is to conduct traffic studies with funding from the federal highway administration via the state department of highways.
A different Metropolitan Planning Organization called Kyova -- a name derived from the three states in its region, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia -- does the same thing for the Tri-State area around Huntington that now encompasses the western urbanized areas of Putnam.
Putnam Commission President Gary Tillis sits on the board of the Regional Intergovernmental Council in Charleston and is its chairman. Putnam has no representation on the Kyova council.
Furthermore, more of Putnam County's traffic flows to Charleston than Huntington by a ratio of 9 to 1, according to Scott Ferry, the traffic study coordinator for the Regional Intergovernmental Council.
"It doesn't make a whole lot of sense for us to be, in terms of transportation planning, a part of the Huntington area because our traffic tends to flow toward Charleston," County Manager Brian Donat said. "It doesn't really make a whole lot of sense for Putnam County to look westward because we don't drive westward."
It's not yet clear what the ramifications of this change will be. About $3 to $4 million in funding for traffic studies is at stake, and commissioners expressed concern that Putnam would get less funding through a Huntington-based Tri-State council where the traffic has less effect on the region than it does in Charleston.The Putnam County Commission meets at 9 a.m. on the second and third Tuesday of each month at the county courthouse in Winfield. The next meeting will be Oct. 9. All meetings are open to the public.