I-70, from the Wheeling Tunnel to Elm Grove, will be torn up for repairs and replacements of every overpass bridge for the next eight years.
The repairs will involve closures and partial closures, and that is causing some serious concern.
Wheeling’s mayor and vice mayor told highway officials that they better be careful, because this kind of traffic tie-up could prompt people to stay out of Wheeling, for business, for entertainment, and for health care.
“Well, its going to have a huge impact on commerce. It’s also going to have a huge impact on health, safety, and every other aspect of doing business in the city of Wheeling,” said vice mayor, Gene Fahey.
“Those bridges have been carrying the traffic lights since the 60s and that’s a long time, so they deteriorated,” said Dan Sikora, DOH.
The department of highways outlined projects and start dates, and the mayor and vice mayor chuckled. They said they’ve seen scheduled highway projects go on hold for six years or more.
“I’ve become frustrated, and the residents have as well because we can only give them the information that’s provided to us,” Fahey said.
Highway officials say things happen that are out of their control.
“Sometimes projects get put back because of right of way, get put back because of design, and sometimes just the funding,” said DOH acting administrator Tom Badgett.
They also say their best and brightest employees have been lured away to the gas and oil industry. They’ve lost people, with a total 360 years experience.
“They just can offer them salaries that you can’t blame them for taking,” Badgett said.
and downtown Wheeling’s sidewalk project went from $1.6 million to over $2 million, due to ADA requirements.
In the end, they thanked senator Rocky Fitzsimmons for setting up this meeting that got vital traffic issues out in the open.
They said the Suspension Bridge lighting and painting project take two years, and it will be shut down for most of that time. That will begin September 2015 and run thru October 2016.