New waterline makes for bumpy commute

WHEELING — Construction on a road that connects Wheeling and Bethlehem has left portions of the highway in poor, potentially dangerous condition in advance of icy winter weather in the coming months.

The stretch of road, at the east end of 29th Street hill where it turns into Valley Boulevard and enters Bethlehem, is the site of a waterline replacement project the city of Wheeling contracted through James White Construction. The work is being done in the right-hand lane as drivers come down the hill from Bethlehem into Wheeling — a stretch of road that state highway signs indicate has a 9 percent grade.

As you enter Wheeling, the outer half of the right-hand lane has been trenched to replace a water line. Given the rain and cold weather, this has led to a number of deep ruts and potholes — not to mention the ice that forms along 29th Street from water that runs off the hillside.

“I drove up through there this morning and it needs to be dealt with,” City Manager Robert Herron said of the road Wednesday. “The trench line needs to be better maintained by the contractor.”

The project involves repairing trenches for the water line that connects Wheeling and Bethlehem and is the contractor’s responsibility, Herron said. The city notified the company to better maintain the line after receiving complaints about the road, he said.

“They have a very good history of repairing trench lines and I’m sure they will quickly,” Herron said.

Herron said he does not know when the company expects to finish the work. Construction began before Thanksgiving.

A representative for James White Construction could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Herron added the repair work is temporary and the company has been reliable.

In its current state, the stretch of road is partially torn up on one side and has water running on the other side. One resident who lives on the road, John Wright, said he’s concerned about safety on the road when the weather gets worse this winter.

“It won’t be (anything) but a sheet of ice,” Wright said. “It’s not bad right now but when it gets icy, it will. Last year (the city) had to bring a backhoe to dig ice up from the road.”

Wright said on the roadway has been an issue for the past several years.

“It’s slow going, but it’s rough down in through there,” he said. “They got a lot of fixing up to do.”