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North Wheeling Traffic Safety Concerns Addressed at Public Meeting

A truck turns from 7th Street on to Main Street in North Wheeling.

WHEELING — West Virginia Division of Transportation District Six Manager Tony Clark expressed to residents during a meeting at Riverview Towers on Wednesday evening that he will look into addressing their safety concerns about the increased truck traffic in North Wheeling as a result of the I-70 Bridges Project.

In addition to looking at possible solutions for better signage and getting the local detour posted on various GPS sites, Clark told residents he would take their ideas of possibly changing part of the local detour to DOT officials in a higher position of authority to further examine.

“You can believe me when I say, ‘I experienced 90 percent of what you’re talking about,'” Clark explained after telling more than a dozen people in attendance that he took time to travel the local detour himself before attending the meeting.

“We will evaluate the suggestions. We are examining anything we can do. I can’t give you a time line (Wednesday). I plan getting on this immediately.”

Several residents have previously suggested that the local detour be changed from its current path — at the top of Wheeling Hill and down through North Wheeling — to traveling along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (former Stone Blvd) at the top of Wheeling Hill, down to Chapline Street, and either continuing on to Market Street where motorists could access I-70 West via the Fort Henry Bridge, or continuing straight on Chapline Street to the W.Va. 2 South on-ramp to I-470 West.

While Clark doesn’t believe the DOT would want to reroute the local detour on to City of Wheeling streets because of possible liability issues, he said he would certainly take the residents’ ideas to DOT officials to further examine.

Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott told the group that City of Wheeling officials will do everything they can to help alleviate the situation if indeed DOT officials believe there is a better “local” route.

“I had an extended conversation with the city manager about this (Wednesday). We will certainly work with the state if they determine that’s the best detour and it’s the more feasible detour to avoid the traffic issues here,” Elliott said on the proposed detour. “It’s less of a steep grade. So I think you would see less jake-braking and it’s wider. It’s not a state road. It’s a city maintained road — but I think for the period of time we are talking about it makes sense.”

Elliott said if the DOT decides to change the detour, obviously it would have to come to city officials and come to some kind of legal agreement due to liability issues.

Several members of Victorian Old Town Association have expressed collectively they believe the increase in the number of trucks traveling through the neighborhood from 7th Street as part of the of the I-70 Bridges Project local detour route is not just trucks making local deliveries, but mostly truckers who are not following the suggested Interstate 470 “through” detour suggested by the West Virginia Division of Highways. They say the increased traffic, especially the large truck traffic continues to be a big safety concern for the entire neighborhood.

Chad and Angie Hill, who reside at 701 Main St. in North Wheeling with their two children, are hopeful the West Virginia West Virginia Division of Highways can help solve the problem by either posting better signage along I-70 in hopes truckers will not miss the I-470 “through” detour at the split in Elm Grove, or by changing at least part of the local detour for truckers. Following the meeting, Clark said it is unlikely the DOT would change part of the local detour to accommodate “only” trucks and that if any change takes place it would most likely affect “all” motorists traveling the route.

The Hills said they don’t believe the current detour is appropriate for large tractor trailers. They said many times larger trucks have difficulty negotiating the sharp turns in that area and come several feet away from the front of their property. They believe it may just be a matter of time before a large rig crashes through a house in the neighborhood. The Hills said while safety is paramount, the increase in truck traffic has added significant noise to the neighborhood.

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