Friendly City Looking to Shift CDBG Funds to Bridge Project

Wheeling officials want to reallocate about $219,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant money to rebuild the Schenk Street bridge connecting the Peninsula and Fulton areas of the city.

City Council originally voted to spend about $150,000 of that money on sidewalk and curb repair projects on Virginia Street on Wheeling Island and on 23rd Street in Center Wheeling. But City Manager Robert Herron said that bridge, which experienced the partial collapse of one of its beams about a month ago – the second such problem in the past couple years – is vital to nearby businesses.

The Schenk Street bridge is one of only two access points to the area of Wheeling known as the Peninsula, a teardrop-shaped piece of land bounded by a sharp bend in Big Wheeling Creek. Traffic would have to detour to the Baker Street bridge on the opposite side of the Peninsula during the work.

That bridge has issues of its own, however. Herron said it’s probably right below the Schenk bridge on the priority list of city-owned bridges needing work, and the heavy truck traffic that would need to cross it while the other is being replaced exceeds the span’s weight limit.

Herron believes the project would take about one to two months to complete. There’s no projected start date yet, but Mayor Andy McKenzie said he wants the work to begin as soon as possible.

In addition to the $150,000 originally programmed for the Virginia Street and 23rd Street projects, the city is proposing to reallocate $20,340 left over from that year’s CDBG street paving budget, $35,084 from the city’s Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund and $13,676 from contingency.

New beams for the bridge alone will cost $170,000. The city is waiting on estimates for demolition of the existing span and assembly of the new one, but Herron believes the $219,100 in CDBG money would cover at least half the total cost. Council would have to dip into its capital projects fund for the rest.

The matter required no action from the Development Committee, but council must hold a public hearing before voting to reprogram previously allocated CDBG funds. That hearing is planned for noon April 2 immediately prior to council’s regular meeting.