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Unearthing Remnants of Wheeling’s History

Photo by Scott McCloskey Crews with Pro Contracting Inc. of Lost Creek remove old sections of trolley tracks from beneath 16th Street this week as they replace the water line in that area of town.

WHEELING — Lane changes and detours along part of 16th Street in Wheeling will remain a concern for motorists through the coming weeks as work continues on the city’s nearly yearlong water line project in the downtown area.

Public Works Director Russell “Rusty” Jebbia said crews with Pro Contracting Inc. of Lost Creek will complete the water line replacement work along 16th Street between Main and Eoff Streets in the coming weeks before starting along Market Street through the downtown area.

Following the work on 16th Street, crews are scheduled to replace lines along Market Street up to 10th Street, across 10th Street to Main Street, then eventually move down Main Street from the Fort Henry Bridge area back to 16th Street through Jan. 31 of next year.

Since Pro Contracting started replacing the more than century-old sections of cast iron water lines over two weeks ago at the corner of 16th and Main Streets, they have encountered and removed old trolley lines to gain access to the water lines below. Jebbia said work crews will remove sections of trolley tracks throughout the project. The old tracks are located beneath the road surface and above the old water lines in many areas of downtown.

The old trolley lines were phased out in downtown Wheeling in the 1940s before being replaced by bus public transportation, according to online reports.

Betsy Sweeny, director of programming for Wheeling Heritage, said it was really around the post-World War II era that not only buses replaced street cars for public transportation, but people bought more automobiles.

“The street cars came in the later half of the 19th century and it was really popular up through … the postwar (era),” Sweeny commented. “The buses kind of phased out the trolleys in terms of public transportation. Because they’re gone, except for these few tracks that remain, people forget about it.”

The water line project is part of the underground utility work being completed in advance of the city’s Downtown Streetscape Project scheduled to begin this year. The project takes place weekly from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, with Friday being used as an inclement weather day.

Motorists are advised to slow down, follow the posted detours, and be aware of changing traffic patterns through the competition of the project.

Inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances could change the project timeline.

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