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Commission Seeks State Action on Interstate

September 13, 2012
By IAN HICKS Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

The Wheeling Traffic Commission is taking concerns about traffic congestion at both Interstate 70 exits serving the Elm Grove area straight to the state's top transportation official.

At Chairman Chuck Delbrugge's request, commissioners on Thursday voted to send a letter to West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox Jr. outlining those concerns, which they believe stem at least in part from increased traffic as development continues at The Highlands.

The first issue deals with traffic backing up at the signal for drivers turning from the westbound off ramp at exit 5 onto National Road.

Article Photos

Photo by Ian Hicks
Listening to discussion about a proposed stop sign Thursday, from left, are Wheeling Operations Supervisor Tim Birch and Wheeling Traffic Commissioners Ronald King and Pat Duffy.

To alleviate the problem, the commission is suggesting the state install left-turn arrows in all directions at the intersection and remove part of the existing concrete island to create space for an additional lane - one for traffic going straight and another for traffic turning left.

The other issue involves the exit ramp from I-70 east at exit 4, near Arby's, which commissioners believe needs widened to two lanes to avoid traffic backing up onto the interstate, similar to the setup at the Washington Avenue interchange. Delbrugge said it probably would only need to be widened by about 2 feet to accomplish this.

"Three years ago it was our understanding that these issues would be addressed," the letter states. "We understand there is a paving contract for I-70 and was hoping this could be included or added to it."

In other business, commissioners voted to deny a request by Elm Grove resident Bill O'Leary for stop signs at Patterson Street and Howell Avenue and at Patterson Street and the alley that runs between it and Marshall Avenue. After hearing the request at last month's meeting, City Operations Supervisor Tim Birch performed a traffic study at those locations.

Birch reported an average of 100 to 125 cars per day driving through those intersections, at an average speed of 18-19 mph, though he noted one car registered at more than 70 mph. Based on those numbers, he told commissioners he didn't believe stop signs were warranted.

"How many cars does it take to hit a kid?" O'Leary said. "How many cars does it take to hit another car?"

Commissioner Chris Hamm said those who are speeding through the alley aren't likely to obey a stop sign. And Commissioner Pat Duffy said with an increasing number of distracted drivers and pedestrians, it's incumbent upon every motorist to be on constant alert for someone walking or pulling out into traffic, whether or not there's a stop sign.

"There's just no sense of responsibility anymore. ... I hate to say it, but maybe it's just something we have to learn to live with," said Duffy.

However, commissioners did vote to recommend a stop sign be placed in the alley behind Hamilton and Homestead avenues in Woodsdale, noting the proximity to Peterson Rehabilitation Hospital and the large volume of ambulances that drive through the area.

Commissioners also voted to recommend eliminating parking on the west side of Chestnut Street in the Pleasanton neighborhood. Birch said the street is too narrow for emergency vehicles to pass when cars are parked on both sides of the street.

A request to create a bus stop on the north side of 24th Street extending east from its intersection with Chapline Street, near Family Dollar, was also approved.

Requests by Cynthia Watson of 3633 Chapline St. and Richard Perrelli of 1019 McColloch St. for handicapped parking spaces in front of their residences also were approved. All new traffic rules must go through two readings and a vote before City Council prior to enactment.

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