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Wheeling Downtown Streetscape Project let out to bid

WHEELING — After months of delays and nearly seven years of planning, Wheeling’s long-awaiting Downtown Streetscape Project has been put out to bid by the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

Motorists who endure downtown Wheeling’s bumpy mosaic of patched streets on a daily basis have been expressing their frustration over the past several months as the project – which had been tapped to begin in the spring of 2021 – has been in a holding pattern as design tweaks and other wrinkles were being ironed out.

On Friday, city leaders said they were informed by the state that the project had been let out to bid, with a bid opening planned for 10 a.m. July 26. Officials said construction must begin 10 days after the notice to proceed is issued, and the deadline for completion of the project is Nov. 29, 2024.

In June of 2020, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice presided over a big announcement that the state was setting aside $25 million for the Wheeling Downtown Streetscape Project, which had already evolved through planning phases for years but remained largely unfunded. The project is designed to deliver a total resurfacing to the Main and Market streets traffic arteries in the city’s downtown areas, as well as improvements to the curbs, sidewalks, traffic signals, lighting and overall downtown motorist and pedestrian traffic thoroughfares. Major infrastructure improvements also have taken place beneath the roadways over the past several years as aged water and sewer lines were replaced and public utilities upgraded their services.

Since the two major traffic arteries through downtown Wheeling are part of W.Va. 2, the state has jurisdiction over the roads and is the lead agency on its completion. Officials in the city of Wheeling, however, have been active advocates for the project since it was first conceptualized during previous city administrations, starting in 2015. The project has grown exponentially over the years to a mammoth undertaking that is expected to cost more than $35 million when considering the work the city has already completed with water main replacements, sewer separations and the ongoing Nailers Way reconfiguration project.

The highly anticipated move to finally put the project out to bid was one that local officials were eagerly awaiting, and there were signs that the bid letting was on the horizon. Several weeks ago, final design adjustments that the state requested had been resubmitted, and an invoice for the remaining portion of the city’s $2 million local match was received by Wheeling officials for pre-advertising.

The huge scale of the project has led to the delays, officials indicated, but city leaders stressed that the state has been diligent in making sure all of the details are in order before the transformative project gets underway and paves a new chapter for the future of downtown Wheeling.

“It’s a very difficult project to design,” Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron noted this week, noting that the architectural paperwork is massive. “It’s 500 sheets deep … and that’s just in the streetscape portion of it. The signalization is another 900 sheets. The specs are thick.

“The DOH has been excellent partners to work with. We appreciate the governor’s standing behind this project, and we look forward to a successful completion. It certainly will be a game-changer downtown.”

Requests for comment from Gov. Jim Justice and other state officials were not immediately returned on Friday.

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