WHEELING - A planned $8.5 million lighting and rewiring project for the Wheeling Suspension Bridge could shut down the historic span for up to two years, according to Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron.
Additionally, the West Virginia Division of Highways will work on a $2.5 million paving project along portions of Main, Market, Chapline, Eoff and 16th streets this summer. The exact start dates for the projects were not revealed, but Herron suggested the summer and fall months will be busy with road work in the Friendly City.
During City Council's noon meeting Tuesday at the City-County Building, Herron said the downtown paving project takes into account nearly 140 handicapped access ramps and will include widening the radius of numerous turning areas to accommodate the larger vehicles that travel through the downtown area.
As for the Suspension Bridge, Herron said, "The bridge is safe. The plan is for lighting work and significant rewiring."
The first Wheeling Suspension Bridge was built in 1849, but a powerful storm in 1854 damaged it beyond repair leading to it being rebuilt in 1860 - just in time for the start of the Civil War in 1861.
The orange construction barrels are also returning to Interstate 70 for a lighting project that stalled last year. Herron said the project had some cost delays and is being rebid.
"We also had some discussion about the intersection at 16th and Wood streets near Neely's (grocery store). It's a very odd configuration and with the development of the sports field across the street, we want interaction between the neighborhoods. We are looking at how to make that safer for vehicular traffic and clearly pedestrian traffic," Herron said.
Vice Mayor Eugene Fahey said he has road concerns in his ward. He said he has been fielding complaints about the rough condition of Kruger Street between Lounez Avenue and National Road. He acknowledged the DOH has plans to widen the turning lane at that location, but added he had "no confidence in the schedule put forth."
He said large gas drilling trucks have been using Kruger Street, resulting in much of the damage.
"It's my understanding that the drilling companies have promised money toward that," Fahey said.