New Cumberland sidewalk improvements stalled

NEW CUMBERLAND-The Second Avenue sidewalk improvement project has been in the planning stages long enough for city officials to openly wonder whether it will ever be done.

But the time for wondering may be coming to an end.

City officials believe the state is close to giving a notice to proceed with the project, now that the city has done the necessary preparation work.

“It’s our understanding that we have complied with everything they have asked us to do,” Mayor Linda McNeil said, “and it’s up to them now to give us the go-ahead and get it done.”

The $130,000 project calls for the construction or reconstruction of sidewalks, crosswalks and minor drainage, as needed, along Second Avenue between Sedgewick and Marshall streets.

Originally, the project was confined to the installation of handicapped-accessible ramps at the five intersections, but the project scope was expanded in March. If funding permits, the project area also may include the intersection of Porter Street and Third Avenue.

Funding for the work is coming from a grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Enhancement Program and a 20 percent match from the city.

A large sign announcing the project has been sitting at the intersection of Second Avenue and Marshall Street for several years, and the project dates back to January 2011.

Among the things delaying the work was the discovery of historic Works Progress Administration stamps in the sidewalk. The stamps’ presence suggests the sidewalks were built by WPA laborers sometime in the 1930s.

Earlier this year, the city reached an agreement with the West Virginia Historic Preservation Office on the fate of the stamps, which will be removed for display either at the New Cumberland Municipal Building or the Hancock County Museum.

Another delay was caused by preliminary work the city had to do to repair sidewalks that had been damaged by tree roots in the 900 and 1000 blocks of Second Avenue.

The city removed the trees, removed the sidewalk slabs and ground the tree stumps this past spring. On Monday, City Council plans to discuss hiring a contractor to replace the sidewalks in front of the two Second Avenue homes.

“This has to be fixed,” McNeil said at a City Council work session last week.

City Clerk Tammy Jenkins said LBRA Architecture of Weirton is expected to send its final revised plans for the Second Avenue project to the West Virginia Division of Highways this week.