Fulton Residents Rail Against Truck Traffic at Wheeling Traffic Commission Meeting

Wheeling Traffic Commission meeting gets heated

Photos by Casey Junkins Wheeling businessman and truck driver Sean O’Brien speaks during the Thursday Wheeling Traffic Commission meeting.

WHEELING — Carlee Dittmar and several others in the Fulton neighborhood believe the Wheeling Traffic Commission put the community at risk with a route directing 18-wheelers down their street, but truck drivers on hand Thursday said the action will improve public safety.

“You are telling me that economic development is more important than the safety of a neighborhood? If we end up with a dead child, it is on your hands,” a furious Dittmar said while speaking to commissioners.

In October, Dittmar asked commissioners Chris Hamm, Pat Duffy, Ronald King and Alan Duvall to establish a route that would keep trucks off her street, which is between National Road and the Peninsula Street industrial area. This area, once home to the large Blaw-Knox plant, now features multiple smaller industrial facilities.

During the October meeting, commissioners agreed to direct trucks to follow National Road onto Berry Street. Once on Berry Street, motorists could head to their destinations on the Peninsula.

However on Thursday, commissioners reversed this plan. Now, truck traffic will turn onto Merwin Street, before continuing onto Fulton Street to drive toward the Peninsula.

“I am very opposed to this,” Dittmar said after the meeting. “Our children and grandchildren are at risk.”

During the meeting, Dittmar shouted at Hamm on more than one occasion, while claiming the commissioner was “rude” to her when she called him with concerns.

“We have a process,” Hamm said. “We are all volunteers.”

“We all have a responsibility to keep the area safe,” he added.

Duvall said he is confident the truck drivers will be as cautious as possible on the route. Mike Dittmar, Carlee’s brother, said he is not so sure.

“Are you going to sit out their and watch them go over the double yellow line?” Mike Dittmar asked Wheeling Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball. “If I go over a double yellow line, I get a ticket.”

Kimball said the law will be enforced within reason. However, businessman and truck driver Sean O’Brien said crossing the double yellow line may prove necessary from time to time, although it will be done cautiously.

O’Brien thanked commissioners for establishing the new truck route.

Also Thursday, commissioners discussed the possibility of allowing East Wheeling residents to purchase a permit to permit them to park at meters without inserting coins.

“I live on 14th Street. In the last year, I’ve probably paid $100 in parking tickets,” City Councilman Brian Wilson told commissioners.

Later, City Manager Robert Herron spoke in favor of the concept, particularly to support a new housing complex at the corner of 12th and Eoff streets.

“The lack of parking is hampering the ability to market that property,” Herron said.

Commissioners then agreed to remove six parking meters on Eoff Street near the intersection of 12th Street. Operations Supervisor Tim Birch said further study is needed before finalizing the permit concept for other East Wheeling residential properties.