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Tree Roots Snarl Sewer Line

December 4, 2013
By IAN HICKS - Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp. officials are getting to the root of a sewer issue at their downtown building.

The building has had problems of late with sewage backing up into its basement, according to WNHAC Executive Director Jeremy Morris. Further investigation revealed one of the trees lining the sidewalk in front of the building as the culprit.

"The tree roots had gotten into the line that exited the building," Morris said. "It was an older sewer line."

Article Photos

Photo by Scott McCloskey
The sidewalk in front of River City Ale Works at 14th and Main streets in downtown Wheeling is missing a tree after root growth ruptured a sewer line, causing sewage to back up into the building’s basement and forcing the tree’s removal.

The offending tree was cut down to its stump this week, and caution tape is in place to keep pedestrians off the sidewalk in front of the building.

In addition to WNHAC's offices, the building at 14th and Main streets houses River City Ale Works and the Wheeling Artisan Center. Morris said the sewage issue did not affect operations at either business.

Morris said work to replace the ruptured sewer line could begin today, and he expects the repairs will cost WNHAC about $18,000. He said the removed tree probably needed to be replaced, anyway.

"We're probably going to replace all the trees (in front of the building) at some point," Morris said.

Morris said WNHAC would like to replace the existing trees with gingko trees similar to those that line Water Street near Heritage Port. He said they hope to accomplish that early next spring.

Most of the trees downtown are of the "Village Green" Zelkova variety, a species of Japanese origin, and were planted more than 30 years ago.

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