Mayor Glenn Elliott to Withdraw Petition for Two-Way Downtown Wheeling Traffic

WHEELING — Mayor Glenn Elliott said there is no consensus in the city for having two-way traffic downtown, and city leaders now will push a plan for enhanced one-way traffic they contend will slow cars and make crosswalks safer.

Following a meeting with Wheeling community leaders Wednesday morning, Elliott said he would withdraw the city’s petition with the West Virginia Division of Highways seeking the change to two-way traffic on Main and Market streets.

The city will instead focus on an effort to bring an enhanced one-way traffic pattern to the downtown, he said. The move is backed by the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce.

The enhanced traffic plan would place “bump-outs” at intersections, shortening the distance pedestrians would have to cross the street. These also would have the effect of slowing traffic, according to Elliott.

Elliott met Wednesday morning with community leaders to give one last sales pitch on the merits of two-way traffic. The discussion was organized by the Chamber at the their offices at 1100 Main St., and lasted about an hour.

“We had a very frank discussion about the benefits of two-way traffic, and the reasons I’ve advocated for it, “ he said. “It is good for pedestrian safety and economic development.

“From the conversations, it is clear there is no consensus in favor of two-way (traffic), but we do think there is a growing consensus around the enhanced one-way (plan) which would at least achieve some of the pedestrian safety goals we have talked about in city council,” Elliott said.

“We think this is important if we are going to have a vibrant downtown.”

Elliott said he intends to inform the DOH that the city will withdraw its petition for two-way traffic considerations, and “double-down” its support for the enhanced one-way plan.

He also expressed appreciation to the Chamber for allowing him to make one last case for two-way traffic patterns.

“Everyone paid attention, and I thought the questions were good,” Elliott said. “I respect the consensus”

Former Mayor Andy McKenzie, chairman of the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce, said the overall position of those in the meeting was that they would not support a change to two-way traffic downtown — but they would support the plan for enhanced one-way traffic.

He said Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, also chamber president, would be sending out an e-mail today to Chamber members asking them to support this position.

“As chairman of the board, I am also asking them to support that position,” McKenzie said.

He commended Elliott and City Manager Robert Herron for taking the time to sit down with the Chamber and discuss the issue of two-way traffic.

Also at the meeting was Frank O’Brien, executive director of the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“I think enhanced one-way traffic is possibly the way to go,” he said. “It’s a compromise, however it’s a positive compromise.

“This can enhance our streetscape on Main and Market streets, and effectively slow down traffic,” said O’Brien.

It should address the safety issues with downtown traffic being raised by pedestrians, he said.

Those skeptical of the enhanced one-way traffic plan say it could cause bottlenecks in the downtown, but O’Brien said that shouldn’t be an overriding issue.

“We know the dates when the shows are going to take place,” he said. “There is enough lead time to get the proper traffic control people there. It’s not like its an emergency or a waterline break — we have a pre-determined schedule. So that can be addressed.”

Usually, most of the shows at the Capitol Theatre or WesBanco Arena are in the evening, O’Brien said.

“The goal is to bring more people downtown during the evening,” he said. “And if its more of a neighborhood environment, people would enjoy it.”

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