Downtown Wheeling Streetscaping Project Costs Grow to $19.1 Million

File Photo A streetscaping project for downtown Wheeling has grown in scope and cost, requiring city fathers to seek a federal grant to complete.

WHEELING — An $8.7 million streetscaping project for downtown Wheeling has blossomed to an estimated $19.1 million, according to City Manager Robert Herron.

During Tuesday’s regular city council meeting, Herron said a resolution was added to the meeting agenda that authorizes the city to apply for a $10.4 million U.S. Department of Transportation BUILD grant to meet unforseen additional costs of the streetscaping project. He said the city already has $8.7 million in hand toward the project.

BUILD Transportation grants are allocated for investments in surface transportation infrastructure and are awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant local or regional impact. BUILD funding can support roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal transportation, according to federal officials. Grant applications are evaluated based on safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection and other merits.

“The West Virginia Division of Highways has agreed to be our co-applicant … and with the money we have in hand, we feel we will be in a very good place to receive this grant,” Herron said.

The original project involved street paving on Main, Market, Chapline streets in the downtown area, as well as some of the connecting streets between the Wheeling Tunnel and Wheeling Creek.

New sidewalks that meet Americans With Disabilities Act criteria also are included in the project. However, the discovery of several hundred underground vaults that have to be filled in or bridged beneath the streets and sidewalks has boosted the cost significantly.

Herron said addressing the vaults alone has added $3.5 million to the total cost of the project.

“It’s a significant increase,” he said.

Ward 4 Councilwoman Wendy Scatterday said the original project did not include new trees and landscaping that now will function as stormwater retention.

“This will serve as a facelift, a brand new environment for downtown,” she said. “It’s gone from paving to a holistic approach to a new look for downtown.”

Herron said the streetscaping will be done in such a way that would not significantly increase in cost if the city is granted permission by the state to change the downtown’s one-way streets to a two-way traffic pattern. He said if the grant is allocated, the project is shovel ready to begin next spring.

“We don’t want to reduce the scope of the project … we want to do it entirely right,” Herron said.

The resolution passed unanimously. In addition to Scatterday and Mayor Glenn Elliott, council members voting yes included Ken Imer, Ty Thorngate, Dave Palmer and Vice Mayor Chad Thalman. Councilman Brian Wilson was absent.

In other business, Scatterday said the public works department continues to address the issue of stormwater and sanitary lines in the Edgwood area where flash flooding continues to plague the area during heavy rain storms.

“The issue is being addressed but there is no solution yet,” she said. “I will keep everyone informed.”

Scatterday will hold a ward meeting at 7 p.m. July 10 at Temple Shalom.

Herron said a five-year, $10 million sewer separation project that includes the 4th Ward will be brought before council in September in the form of a bond note ordinance.

“Then a rate case will be forthcoming,” Herron added.

Council also heard from two residents of the Oakmont Hills area of the city who requested paving for Fieldcrest Drive. Residents Pete Sapon and Gus Sokos said the road has been patched over the years, but has not been paved since 1989.

“The road is horrendous in the winter,” Sapon said. “I would ask that you pave half the road this year.”

Also Tuesday, council honored Public Works Director Russell “Rusty” Jebbia on his 40-year anniversary with the city.