The Wheeling Street Bridge, closed since earlier this year for major improvements, opened last week.
“I really wanted to get Wheeling Street open for Thanksgiving. That really was our goal,” said Public Service Director Paul Roman at a council meeting last month.
The bridge over I-280 was replaced with a new six lane structure. Motorists used a detour down Dearborn Avenue, which was temporarily converted to two-way traffic between Wheeling Street and Navarre Avenue. I-280 ramps to and from Wheeling Street had been closed throughout the summer.
“I thought for sure it would take a lot longer getting the traffic lights up,” said Roman. “They still have to work out the timing of the signals, so please be patient.”
As part of the $11 million project, Wheeling Street was widened to five lanes from Navarre Avenue to just south of Pickle Road and to three lanes from just south of Pickle Road to Brown Road.
Construction on the project began in June, 2010.
Planning of the project stretches back to the 1990s, said Roman.
“Seventy-five percent of the project was federally funded through the State of Ohio. But we had to pay 100 percent of right of way,” said Roman. “When the stimulus funds were made available, the state asked for all shovel ready projects. So I applied for Wheeling. It was ready for bid. We received another $1.6 million towards that project, and that went a long way. It really helped make up for the right of way purchases and things like that. But we still had to borrow $2 million for that project.”
E.S. Wagner, Oregon, was the contractor for the project, which will reduce congestion and create easier access along the Wheeling Street corridor.
“We used to have a lot of traffic backed up on Wheeling,” said Mayor Mike Seferian. “There was a big traffic bottleneck at that intersection at Pickle Road and Wheeling, also.”
Fire Station No. 2 on Wheeling also got hung up on traffic while responding to calls, he added.
“Even before the construction, just the traffic problems that would normally happen on Wheeling Street made it difficult at times for the fire equipment to get out onto Wheeling Street. There were already issues there. When traffic was backed up, it was a real struggle for the fire station to get out of there,” he said.
Fire Station No. 1 at the corner of Seaman and Wynn roads, would take some of those calls to assist Station 2 when traffic was congested.
“That was always a priority in case there were problems for Station No. 2 getting out,” he said. “Traffic will flow better now.”
Todd Audet, deputy director of Ohio Department of Transportation District Two, agreed.
“Congestion in this area will be greatly reduced, resulting in a more fluid movement of goods and services in the city,” he said.
Although the bridge and ramps are open, the project is not yet completed, said Roman.
“There’s still work to be done on Wheeling,” said Roman. “There still is a lot of fine grading and seeding that has to be done in terms of drainage. Those things will go until the spring to complete.”
Councilman Sandy Bihn said the community is relieved that the bridge is open.
“I’m sure that’s good news for the people on Coy Road who have weathered this pretty well through the year. That has been a long term project. I think it’s very important to the community. There’s a tremendous amount of traffic that uses it. I think we all have weathered it pretty well,” said Bihn at a council meeting in November.
“I think people understood much better than I thought,” said Seferian after the meeting. “They were really patient.”
Work will resume on the project next spring with possible overnight lane restrictions on I-280 at Wheeling Street for finish work.