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COVID Aid OK’d for Wheeling Stormwater, Sewer Work

File Photo - In this 2019 photo, a vehicle drives through high water at the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Elm Street in Wheeling after a heavy rain. Federal funding has been set aside to help address flooding issues with nearby Elm Run.

One eligible use for American Rescue Plan Act funds is tied to investments into public infrastructure, and officials in Wheeling are moving forward with millions of dollars worth of improvements throughout the city.

This week, members of Wheeling City Council unanimously approved a resolution identifying various stormwater management projects that will be funded through the ARPA money that the city has received. In total, the city received around $29.5 million in federal pandemic relief funds from ARPA, which comes with strict guidelines on how the money is to be reinvested back into the community.

City leaders recently allocated millions of dollars in ARPA money to the Greater Wheeling Sports and Entertainment Authority and the Wheeling Park Commission to assist with major improvement projects for the Capitol Theatre, WesBanco Arena and Wheeling Park. Officials described these venues and economic drivers in the city that draw people to the city and spark commerce.

As for infrastructure investments, city leaders said residents of the city will benefit from these planned upgrades, many of which are part of the city’s long-term water pollution control plan.

“The Public Works Committee got together with different members of city staff, and what we looked at was trying to find different projects that could get the biggest bang for our bucks to help the city solve – at least in part – some of the flooding issues,” said Councilman Jerry Sklavounakis, chairman of the Public Works Committee of Council. “I truly appreciate city staff and fellow members of city council for working with me in getting this list out.”

Included on the list and the resolution that was passed this week were projects that had been discussed as being a high priority to help alleviate flooding problems in various neighborhoods in the city. They included Gaewood Avenue and Elm Terrace storm sewer placement, Greenwood Avenue and Rush Avenue storm sewer extension, storm sewer improvements from South Huron Street to Virginia Street, Valley View storm sewer and sanitary sewer trunk line improvement projects, Sibert to Edgington Lane storm sewer improvements, the dredging of Elm Run and a box culvert project at Miller Street.

Several neighborhoods in Wheeling – including parts of Warwood and Edgwood in Wards 4 and 5 – have experienced flooding after heavy rains. Wheeling officials have been working to prioritize projects that can help alleviate these ongoing problems.

“This resolution is the first step to getting these vital projects completed without the need to raise fees,” Sklavounakis noted.

“Council remains steadfast toward our goal of eliminating flooding issues that many of our residents experience during and after hard rains,” Councilman Ty Thorngate added. “The use of American Rescue Plan funds will allow the city to expedite these projects without the need for another rate increase.”

City leaders indicated that additional projects for infrastructure upgrades may also be on tap with ARPA funds still available. According to the federal guidelines, municipalities are required to spend the ARPA funds on eligible projects by the end of 2024.

“Hopefully the next matter that comes from Public Works will be some kind of paving – more paving, including alleys and roadways throughout the city,” Sklavounakis said.

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