City Asks for Patience In Snow Removal

WHEELING — As city officials are threatening and levying fines for those who fail to clean the snow from their walks, an interesting situation developed earlier this week, as piles of snow left behind by city plows had blocked parking spaces throughout the central business district.

When contacted about the situation, city officials asked for patience from downtown business owners and residents as the city is currently operating with only one backhoe to remove the piles of snow on the sides of downtown streets.

Public Works Director Russell Jebbia said because the city is currently down to one backhoe, it is requiring a few more days than normal for crews to get out and remove the plowed snow. For example, crews cleared snow from parking spaces in front of businesses in Centre Market late Wednesday night — several days after the most recent snow accumulation.

Jebbia said the city had three or four backhoes in years past, but this winter it is down to one. He said that loader is primarily being used to load salt onto trucks and move piles of cinders in the days following a large snowfall.

Jebbia said city officials are aware of the problem and are going through the process of purchasing another loader.

“We use to have four loaders in the operations division, and now we’re down to one backhoe … so we can’t do everything at the same time with the equipment we currently have. There’s a second reading that will be coming up on council’s agenda (Feb. 6) for us to get a new backhoe because we had one that caught on fire not too long ago up at the landfill, so we lost the second one. So we are down some equipment,” Jebbia said. “Right now, we are transferring cinders from one place to another …. so we’re transferring materials and loading trucks at night.”

Jebbia said they wait for the midnight crews to clear the snow from the streets because of vehicles parked along the streets during the daytime and early evening hours.

Jebbia said another problem from the recent snowfall is some larger businesses that have parking lots have plowed the snow from their private lots into the street. He said it is illegal to do that and it is the business’ responsibility to haul the snow from their lot.

“They need to stockpile it on their property or haul it away to someplace else, but not push it out into our traffic lanes or into our parking lanes and that’s what a lot of the problem is … so last night we were trying to clean up some of those areas just to get it back open and that’s been an ongoing issue whenever we have a major snowfall,” Jebbia added. He said business owners are responsible for keeping their sidewalks clear, as well.

“We don’t have the manpower or equipment to clean all the snow off the street right after a big snowfall and it’s going to take us a few days to get caught up,” Jebbia said. “They were working (Wednesday) night and removing piles from Eoff and Chapline, and they will be moving (Thursday) night to do Main and Market streets,” he added.

He said when crews plow snow it has to go somewhere and unfortunately, it is going to pile up along the sides of streets.

City crews currently haul snow to the Robrecht property across Wheeling Creek from WesBanco Arena. He said when the valley has experienced a major snowfall in the past the city will get a state permit to dump the snow directly into the creek when they run out of space to stockpile the snow. He said that’s something they would do again in the future, if necessary.

“It’s going to warm up over the next few days and that will help as long as it is a nice, slow melt. That way, we don’t have to worry about the creeks flooding,” Jebbia added.

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