Downtown Wheeling Waterline Project Is Finished Ahead of Schedule
WHEELING — After many months of seeing orange barrels, construction crews and lane closures in downtown Wheeling, the city’s underground work has finally come to an end.
In fact, the work on the downtown waterline replacement finished months ahead of schedule, city officials noted this week.
Many motorists and business owners grew weary of the seemingly nonstop downtown construction over the past several months, which left the main traffic arteries in downtown Wheeling appear to be pieced together like a mosaic of concrete patchwork.
But the millions of dollars worth of underground utility improvements have been moving forward ahead of the state of West Virginia’s plan to invest $25 million into the long-awaited Downtown Streetscape Project, which will bring new sidewalks, curbs, rebuilt and paved roads, light signals and other features to enhance the heart of the city.
Officials planned to install new water lines and separate the city’s old combined sanitary and storm sewer systems downtown before the major investment is made into the surface work.
The plan has been to perform all of the underground work first to avoid having to tear up sections of the newly rebuilt streets once the state project moves forward.
While the city’s underground utility work has wrapped up, there will be more digging in the future, but that work will be performed by the state’s contractors.
“I wanted to recognize several city employees for their work on the downtown water main project,” Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron said this week. “That project has been completed and was completed two-and-a-half months ahead of schedule. I wanted to recognize Assistant City Manager Bill Lanham, Public Works Director Rusty Jebbia, Water Superintendent Lori Siburt and her staff, CT Consultants and Pro Contracting, as well as thanking the businesses and residents who have had to put up with this project through the nine months that it was under construction.”
CT Consultants provided the design and engineering work for the downtown water main project, and Pro Contracting of Lost Creek, W.Va., served as the general contractor. Last year, Wheeling City Council entered into a $4,250,665 pact with Pro Contracting for the work, which included replacement of a downtown water main that had been in service since 1886.
“The project ended up being a success … and on budget, so we’re very pleased with that,” Herron said. “There may be a little bit of work that needs to be done on a parking lot for water service in the spring, but for the most part, the project is 99.9% completed.”
Herron noted that a sewer separation project on Market Street will still need to be completed, but the city manager explained that this work is actually part of the Downtown Streetscape Project headed by the state.
The sewer separation will take place at an area where Nailers Way is currently being relocated behind WesBanco Arena to create a four-way intersection at Main and 16th streets. The sewer separation project will extend to 16th Street and go up Market Street. The city already completed the sewer separation along Main Street downtown a couple of years ago, and a project to install a new liner in a sewer line along Market Street was completed in 2020, as well.
According to Herron, the state will install the new storm sewer and perform the sewer separation on Market Street because of planned repositioning of the storm water management as part of the Streetscape designs in certain areas. Main Street and Market Street in downtown Wheeling are part of W.Va. 2, which is the jurisdiction of the West Virginia Division of Highways.
“The state wants to improve the turning radius at the intersection of 16th and Market,” Herron explained, noting that truck drivers have a hard time making the turn there without hitting part of the sidewalk. “They want to do something at 12th and Market as well.”
In order to accommodate this, the state plans to move the catch basins for the new storm sewer systems to improve the intersections and make turns more navigable without motorists striking the corners of the sidewalks.
“The city is going to take over the sewer — once it’s constructed — and maintain it,” Herron said. “Then that storm sewer will then be available for stormwater management for any development downtown.”
City leaders noted that the new infrastructure downtown will be able to serve all of the currently planned and any future economic development ventures. Officials in Wheeling are waiting for the WVDOH to move plans forward and put the Downtown Streetscape Project out to bid.