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Fund Project In Wheeling

Repairing downtown Wheeling streets and sidewalks ought to be as much of a priority in Charleston as it is here. A partnership between local and state officials to get that done has been talked about for about five years, and it is time to get moving on it.

City officials had hoped to embark on a major “streetscaping” project on Main, Market, Chapline and Eoff streets. The idea was to repair streets and sidewalks, while improving landscaping and taking other steps to make downtown Wheeling more attractive to pedestrians.

But the price tag for that whole package has climbed to $28 million. Wheeling has just $5.5 million set aside for the project. At one time, the state Department of Transportation had earmarked $6.7 million.

A federal grant for $15.3 million to cover the remainder of the cost had been sought — but it has been turned down for two years in a row.

As we reported Saturday, Mayor Glenn Elliott hopes more than the initial $6.7 million in state funding can be obtained. City officials will plead their case on that next month in Charleston.

And as Elliott points out, much of the responsibility for the project rests with the state, because nearly all the street paving will be on W.Va. 2.

It is unlikely that Gov. Jim Justice and other state officials will be delighted to see Wheeling’s representatives approaching, with hats in hand, next month. For one thing, the DOT already has committed $211 million to major repairs on Interstate 70 bridges in Ohio County.

But the W.Va. 2 work in downtown Wheeling is needed, too. A drive down Main Street makes that clear.

Justice’s administration has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to highway and bridge work throughout the state. Collections of revenue to fund the budget are lagging behind expectations. There just is not as much state funding to aid local projects as anyone may have hoped there would be.

Still, at least the basic work of repairing streets and sidewalks in downtown Wheeling needs to be done — and much of it is the state’s responsibility. Justice should instruct the DOT to find funding for it, so the project can get underway.

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