Four items are commonly found in Moundsville's Commercial Historic District these days: specialty shops, music playing from speakers attached to light posts, construction barrels and natural gas industry trucks.
City Councilman Phil Remke only wants the shops and the music on Jefferson Avenue, as he hopes the West Virginia Division of Highways will consider re-routing truck traffic from this street. He also wants Mountaineer Gas Co. to finish with its line project as quickly as possible so they can remove the barrels.
"This is destroying the historic central business district. I am trying to get new people in here. They are not going to come when it is like this," Remke said. "We've got to alleviate the truck traffic here."
Photo by Casey Junkins
Moundsville City Councilman Phil Remke said industry trucks continue damaging Jefferson Avenue, which he said makes it difficult for businesses in the city’s Commercial Historic District to thrive.
In April, Remke pulled out in front of a wide-load truck to stop its travel near the intersection of Seventh Street and Grant Avenue, prompting a police response. Remke said he pulled his car in front of the vehicle to prevent it from traveling an unauthorized route.
"Somebody has to take a stand and do something," he said. "Why should we just sit here and let them run over us?"
Remke believes most of the large trucks are transporting equipment and supplies to or from natural gas industry sites, such as well pads, compressor stations, processing plants or pipeline installations. He said most of those he sees traveling unauthorized routes regularly carry heavy equipment or pipe that he believes is used in the industry.
One solution Remke would like the West Virginia DOH to consider is redirecting truck traffic from Jefferson Avenue to a different street when the traffic is following U.S. 250.
"This is in our comprehensive plan. We need to find a way to make it happen," he said.
Remke also wants to find a way to hold trucking companies responsible for some of the road damage they may cause. He pointed to a road usage agreement adopted in Jefferson County as a way the city may be able to do this.
However, in Ohio, each county has its own road department, as does each township within the counties. This gives the local governments more control of the roads than in West Virginia, in which the DOH is responsible for virtually all roads, with the exceptions of city streets.
"That is a problem here in West Virginia," Remke said. "We need to have more local control of these roads."
In February, an 8-foot-deep sinkhole developed on the Jefferson Avenue Extension portion of U.S. 250. Moundsville Sanitary Superintendent Larry Bonar said bricks on the side of a manhole for a sanitary collection line collapsed, resulting in the sinkhole.
"We can't afford to have another sinkhole. That would cost us some big bucks," Remke said.
During a recent City Council meeting, Remke told fellow members that some truckers are "taking up the whole stinking avenue." He said he wants the city's Traffic Committee to consider developing more stringent regulations and installing more visible signs.
"We've got to stand up and do something," Remke said.
"This is a bad situation that is only going to get worse because these trucks are not going to stop coming through here on their own."