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City’s Gateway Park To Highlight Bridge

The historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge remains one of the longest-lasting and most unique engineering feats of the 19th century. Visitors travel from across the country to document the 1,010-foot span built in 1849.

While we all understand the span’s importance, there’s really not a good place for visitors to learn more about its impact. But a new project to highlight the bridge and provide a place to relax and take in the majestic splendor of Charles Ellet’s work soon will be under construction.

After being in a holding pattern for two years due to COVID-19 and also the closure of the Suspension Bridge, city leaders have announced the planned Gateway Park — which will be located on property south of the bridge, on the span’s Wheeling Island entrance on South Front Street — is now ready for development.

City Manager Robert Herron said James White Construction of Weirton will handle the initial phase of the project at a cost of about $410,000. That money is coming from a $150,000 donation from the Fitzsimmons Family Foundation and $260,000 from the city’s Restricted Capital Improvement Program.

There are five more construction phases to the park, Herron said. The total cost is expected to reach about $1.6 million.

“Phase 1 is the streetscape part on Front Street,” Herron said. “Phase 2 will include the grassy area and a walkway down to the river. We’ve only funded Phase 1. But we’re going to participate with a Brownfields grant — because there’s a small tank that needs to be taken out at the site — as part of Phase 3.”

It’s good to see the project moving forward to coincide with the rehabilitation of the Suspension Bridge. For too long, the area in question has been allowed to turn into an overgrown, weed-infested area.

Turning it into a park to highlight the bridge and the city’s river heritage will benefit everyone.

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