An Inaccurate Science: WVDOH juggles major road projects in the Wheeling area | News, Sports, Jobs


Photo by Scott McCloskey The West Virginia Department of Highways plans road projects, closures and detours, and those plans are created as part of a detailed process.

WHEELING – The blossoming orange barrels around the region’s roads won’t fade anytime soon. Highway and infrastructure projects across the region – some massifs and others smaller – have closed and narrowed roads and sent drivers on numerous detours.

How all of these projects fit together – and the mission of keeping the roads as open as possible – falls primarily on the West Virginia Highway Division. DOH officials say process is inexact science, but department is doing its best to keep motorists moving

While it may appear that some of these closure and detour decisions may rest with the Town of Wheeling – especially with the current water and sewer projects affecting Main and Market streets in the city center – the majority of those decisions are ultimately made by the West Virginia division of Freeways simply because these projects fall under DOH sway, according to engineer Tony Clark of the West Virginia Freeways Division.

Clark said there is a collaborative and planning process between the DOH and the cities whenever construction affects a road that falls within the DOH right-of-way.

He said that while it’s not always an exact science, the DOH does its best when it comes to the decision-making process around closures or detours.

Clark said that for any city infrastructure project that falls within DOH’s right-of-way, the city is in that right-of-way by permit. Clark said that in addition to long-term road or bridge repair or replacement projects, the other major reason for long-term road closures and detours results from utility or infrastructure projects that fall. in the grip of the DOH.

“They must be allowed to be there both to protect our interests (DOH) on the road and because of the traffic control involved,” Clark explained.

The ultimate goal, Clark said, is to move traffic to the area. The DOH wants traffic control and signage to follow the code and have flaggers if needed, among other things.

“That’s why we make sure that they (the city) include a certain traffic control plan, whether it’s for a detour, whether it’s to signal traffic or to close a lane.” he said. “They just need to follow the current guidelines.”

The DOH has many sections of I-70 between the Ohio State border and the Middle Creek area under construction, including the on and off ramps in Ohio County. He’s also currently working on two other Ohio County projects, Clark said – replacing the Bear Rock Bridge on the National Highway in Valley Grove and the Clinton Bridge on W.Va. 88.

A major road closure was moved later. What was supposed to be the more than a year of closure of the historic stone bridge over the state highway in Elm Grove has recently been postponed until next spring. This will alleviate the traffic problems in this area with respect to the I-70 bridge project and ultimately reduce the length of time the stone bridge is closed to traffic.

Clark said that whenever the DOH planned some sort of big project with the city, like the Wheeling Streetscape project, the city was included as a stakeholder from the start with the concepts and throughout the design phase.

“We take the requests of the city and accommodate them as best we can so that it is mutually beneficial for both” Clark explained. “Sometimes there are demands that we can’t meet for one reason or another, but we try to mitigate that as best we can.

“We try to do our best in the planning stages” he added. “Sometimes there are unforeseen problems. Like on (the I-70 Bridges project), we tried to do our best on the detour, but nothing will be perfect. So once we get out there and see how things work, we adjust it as best we can to make those adjustments. There is a lot of science involved and traffic engineering… but it’s not always an exact science.

Clark said that while city officials can obviously divert traffic onto their own streets, the DOH is not allowed to divert traffic from the DOH system to city streets – except in situations of ’emergency.

Echoing Clark’s comments, Director of Public Works Russell “Rust” Jebbia said DOH officials oversee many road closure and detour decisions affecting streets in the town of Wheeling, as those streets fall under DOH’s grip.

As the city plans major renovation projects in the city center, such as replacing the nearly one-year water pipe affecting Main and Market streets, Jebbia said the DOH is making the final decisions about them. closures and detours in these streets. He said the DOH asks inspectors to check work sites and ultimately make decisions on what closures and detours to make from the project and surrounding projects.

“It is a city water pipeline project, but it is under state inspection because it is considered Highway 2” Jebbia explained. “We coordinate this with the state. … Everything was approved by them, so they approved the detours.

Jebbia said the City of Wheeling Public Information Officer also attends DOH meetings and receives updates from the DOH office that affect city streets and roads and that the information is shared with his office. Currently, Jebbia has said that the only streets in the city closed by the city authority are several neighborhood streets that the city cobbles, such as Woodsdale.

“They completed the sewer project in Woodsdale, so Bedillion Lane’s job is done” Jebbia said. “So at the moment we’re just waiting for the paving, that’s about the only thing we have going on.”

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