Council OKs Extension of Two-Way Portion of Market Street

The intersection of 16th and Market streets likely will see increased traffic when a new Barnes & Noble bookstore opens in downtown Wheeling next year, so City Council on Tuesday adopted several recommendations intended to keep cars flowing smoothly to and from the site.

One of those recommendations from the city Traffic Commission will open Market Street to two-way traffic all the way north to its intersection with 16th Street.

The street currently becomes one way at its intersection with 18th Street, but the new traffic pattern will allow motorists to turn south onto Market from 16th Street in order to enter the bookstore’s parking lot.

City Operations Superintendent Timothy Birch previously said the street would be repainted in the spring when the weather is suitable. Other changes include relocating two parking meters on Market Street and forbidding left turns from South Street onto Market.

West Virginia Northern Community College requested the measures as it continues expanding its downtown campus by renovating the former Straub Honda and Straub Hyundai buildings on the northwest and southwest corners of that intersection, respectively. In addition to housing the new bookstore, the Straub Hyundai building also will serve as an activities center for WVNCC students, though the Barnes & Noble will be open to the public.

Council also approved six other traffic rules, all unanimously, including handicapped parking spaces in front of 2519 Warwood Ave., 2317 Eoff St. and 39 Kentucky St.; removal of five parking meters along 16th Street in front of the future West Virginia Department of Heath and Human Resources offices and establishment of a no-parking zone in that area; and 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.

In other business, City Manager Robert Herron acknowledged recent reports of major traffic congestion, particularly when events at the Capitol Theatre have fallen on the same night as Wheeling Nailers home games.

He added Oglebay Park officials reported record attendance for the Festival of Lights this past Saturday, which also contributed to traffic backup.

“The police are aware, but there’s really not much that can be done. … The good thing is, people are coming to the events,” said Herron.

Tuesday’s meeting opened with a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims in Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Mayor Andy McKenzie also took time during his report to acknowledge the tragedy, noting the news affected him deeply as a father.

He pointed out Newtown is a community of comparable population to Wheeling and said the shooting should serve as a wake-up call that no place is immune from the possibility of such senseless acts of violence. The mayor also suggested city leaders reach out to school officials in the future to ensure everyone is working together to keep local schools as safe as possible.

“They haven’t happened in New York City … they’ve happened in smaller, Wheeling, W.Va.-like places,” McKenzie said of recent mass shootings.

Prior to council’s regular meeting, the city Finance Committee met to discuss the monthly finance report. Herron reported the city is “right on budget,” with revenue slightly ahead of projections. He did point out the general fund balance is about $900,000 short of where it had been at this time the past few years, but he attributed that to having three pays in November combined with a $340,000 transfer to the city’s pension fund that typically takes place in December.

Committee members also went behind closed doors for about 10 minutes to discuss pending litigation, with no action taken following the executive session.