Two-Way Traffic Sought for Downtown Bookstore

A small portion of Market Street could be open to two-way traffic by summer as Wheeling Traffic Commission members look at ways to keep vehicles flowing smoothly when a new Barnes & Noble bookstore opens in downtown Wheeling next year.

During a meeting Thursday, commissioners voted unanimously to recommended three traffic rules related to West Virginia Northern Community College’s ongoing construction project at the corner of 16th and Market streets, which includes the combined bookstore and student activities center on the former Straub Hyundai lot and the Applied Technology Center on the former Straub Honda lot across the street. Those recommendations are subject to City Council’s approval.

The Barnes & Noble store, which will be open to the public and located on the ground floor of the renovated building, is slated to open in late May or early June.

The college’s plans call for the entrance to the Barnes & Noble parking lot to be located on Market Street, but the current traffic pattern prevents motorists traveling west on 16th Street from turning left onto Market Street – meaning they would have to turn right on Market Street, west on 14th Street and then south on Main Street before turning back onto 16th Street and onto South Street in order to point themselves in the right direction to enter the parking lot. This led WVNCC to ask the city to extend the two-way portion of Market Street all the way to its intersection with 16th Street.

City Operations Superintendent Tim Birch said the West Virginia Division of Highways would have to approve the change because that portion of Market Street is considered part of W.Va. 2, but he doubts the state will block the move.

“Basically, they said, ‘If you’re OK with it, we’re OK with it,'” said Birch.

The other two recommendations were to relocate two parking meters that currently block the planned entrance to the parking lot further north on Market Street and also forbid motorist from turning left from South Street onto Market.

In other business, commissioners voted to remove five parking meters from in front of the future West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services office in the former Robinson building on 16th Street and declare that stretch a no parking zone. Mike Price of McKinley and Associates said the space needs to be cleared to accommodate a fire lane, the entrance to the building’s parking lot and a space for motorists to drop off elderly or disabled visitors at the office.

They also voted to establish no parking zones on the south side of 24th Street between Main Street and Lane A and on the north side of 24th Street extending about 20 feet west from Main Street; and approved handicapped parking spaces in front of 2519 Warwood Ave., 3846 Wood St., 2317 Eoff St. and 39 Kentucky St.