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Concrete Pour Underway at WVNCC Parking Lot

Photo by Scott McCloskey – Crews from Savage Construction are working to pour concrete at the site of a future parking lot at the corner of Main and 16th streets in downtown Wheeling.

WHEELING – A fenced-in lot at the corner of Main and 16th streets downtown has been torn up for months now, but visible progress is being made as crews from Savage Construction work to pour concrete at the site of a future parking lot, after nearly two years and $700,000 worth of work.

The finished lot will serve as parking space for students of West Virginia Northern Community College when completed. WVNCC Director of Marketing David Barnhardt said Monday’s work consists of pouring concrete curbing, and that while there is currently no solid timeline for the work, paving work is expected to be complete before the cold weather sets in.

“They certainly will be paving and striping the parking lot for our use, but we don’t have any definitive dates on when that’s going to happen yet,” Barnhardt said. “That will happen soon, before the cold weather sets in, that’s their goal.”

Further improvements to the lot to accommodate features such as trees or other landscaping are slated to begin in the spring, but no definitive plans for what those features will be are currently set, Barnhardt said.

“There will be landscaping, I don’t know if those decisions have been made yet, but that’ll happen in the springtime,” he added.

The lot at the corner of 16th and Main streets in Wheeling was closed in 2018 due to foundation issues causing it to be unsuitable for parking. At the time, a sinkhole had caused the lot to cave in slightly.

Barnhardt said the previous lot was built over an “empty foundation,” and 19 empty fuel storage tanks had been removed from beneath the lot after its closure.

“The Ohio County Development Authority came in and remediated it, removed the tanks, backfilled it, and returned it to us, so we’re now going to be turning it back into a parking lot. … It will be relatively soon, here, before it gets too cold and we can’t pour asphalt,” he said.

Over the course of the summer, more than 4,100 tons of contaminated soil were removed from the site using heavy equipment, which was re-filled with dirt.

Early estimates for the work placed the cost of the work at $35,000, but commissioner Tim McCormick said the total cost came in at around $700,000, paid for by the development authority.

McCormick said the nearly twentyfold increase in cost was due to the unexpected number of tanks removed from the site — the county was only planning to remove two.

“We didn’t expect anything like this, obviously. We had to dig a pretty big hole to get all the tanks out, replace all the dirt because the dirt was contaminated,” he said. “It was a little expensive, but it was done right, but for those who say we don’t do anything for downtown, there’s 700 grand.

“… We were told there were only two tanks, so we were going to just take the two tanks out, fill the dirt in, but there were 19 tanks, and it had to be remediated, take everything out, get rid of it and put it in a storage area where it was safe, and then put everything back. … I was shocked myself.”

McCormick said he was unsure if the development authority obtained money for the project through grants, but he did say that some of the money came from the transfer of the property to WVNCC.

Previously published reports indicated that the Development Authority owns the lot and the college has used it as a parking lot through a permanent easement.

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