W.Va. Planning $100M I-70 Project

The West Virginia Division of Highways plans to do $100 million worth of work on Interstate 70 through Ohio County, and state and local leaders met this week in Charleston to discuss how best to facilitate the project, Wheeling Councilman David Miller said Wednesday.

Miller, who represents the 4th Ward on council, hosted a community meeting at Woodsdale Elementary School. He told those present Wheeling’s leaders were in Charleston on Sunday and Monday with the West Virginia Municipal League visiting the Legislature.

Miller noted that Mayor Andy McKenzie, City Manager Robert Herron and the six members of Wheeling City Council got to have a “one on eight” meeting with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and his staff, as well as with Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, and state Sen. Robert “Rocky” Fitzsimmons,” D-Ohio.

The group discussed how $100 million is being made available to improve I-70 in Ohio County, and how the money could best be spent, he continued. Miller said work is needed from “state line to state line” – Pennsylvania to Ohio though Ohio County – to improve bridge supports and decking.

“We are in a very active discussion on how to do that,” he said. “The good news … we’re going to be able to have some discussions with them as to what is best for the city as they do those repairs.

“There’s going to be a kind of rip-the-bandage-off quick repair that is very painful, but is a shorter amount of time to do all the work on I-70,” he added. “Then there’s a work-at-night (plan) that takes forever. They’ve given us the cooperation to do that.”

Miller added that Tomblin and the state senators “are in full support of issues with respect to home rule.”

Wheeling is part of the four-year pilot “home rule” program that gives selected municipalities more freedom from state government in governing their communities. In Wheeling, the program was mostly used to streamline fees and to remove dilapidated buildings, he said.

Miller said Wheeling’s leaders asked the governor and the lawmakers to extend the program for another five years.