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Crews Blaze Trail Through Rough WV Coal Country

Tue October 03, 2006 - Northeast Edition
Tracy Carbasho



West Virginia is living up to its “Open for Business” motto by continuing to improve roadways throughout the state to facilitate easier traveling.

In particular, state Route 10 is being upgraded and realigned in Logan County between the cities of Man and Logan. Construction of a $21-million span, called the WV 10 Man Bridge, was completed this summer by National Engineering of Hebron, KY. The four-lane bridge, which crosses the Guyandotte River, is 2,200 ft. (671 m) long and represents a unique type of construction.

“The geometry of the structure as a reverse-curve, steel-girder bridge is unique,” said Rob Pennington, construction engineer of District 2 of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways. “The reverse curve is shaped like a soft ’S.’ Although the geometry is unique, the bridge is not that unusual in West Virginia given our topography.”

Construction of the new bridge is part of the realignment of Route 10. The next project adjacent to the new bridge consisted of constructing the road grade for the new four-lane section of Route 10 between Taplin and Earling. The $14.6-million contract was awarded to Kanawha Stone Co. Inc. in Nitro, WV.

Pennington said this particular project involved 2 mi. (3.2 km) and consisted of constructing a dirt grade, a retaining wall and a 109-ft. (33.2 m) bridge that crosses a valley in the hillside. The project reached substantial completion in June.

The project was difficult given the steep terrain and narrow construction area bordering the Guyandotte River. The contractor was forced to deal with unanticipated mined coal seams that had collapsed and allowed rock seams to fold, creating fractured rock strata. The fractured rock also had vertical laminations that combined to present very seamy conditions in the rock and shale that allowed gases from the explosives to escape and hamper the breakage of the rock.

“The terrain in Logan County made it complicated to complete a massive earth operation on the side of a mountain and to keep the materials from encroaching upon the Guyandotte,” said Pennington.

Approximately 2.8 million cu. yds. (2.1 million cu m) of dirt and rock were excavated using Komatsu PC 1100 excavators and Cat 777 haul units. Kanawha Stone previously completed an excavation project in Stollings, WV, approximately 10 mi. from the Taplin site.

Kanawha Stone and Heeter Construction Inc. were simultaneously using the same access road, which made both projects a little tricky. Heeter Construction, based in Spencer, WV, is completing the next phase of the Route 10 upgrade. The $16-million project consists of 0.7 mi. (1.1 km) between Earling and Rich Creek Road.

The work, which got under way in April 2005, includes drilling, blasting and removing 2.5 million cu. yds. (1.9 million cu m) of dirt, as well as the placement of 360,000 cu. yds. (275,240 cu m) of select embankment fill. In addition, crews from Heeter will construct three mechanically stabilized earth retaining walls, two 100-ft. (30.5 m) bridges and storm water drainage systems.

The two spans — the Martin Bridge and the Boone Bridge — both stretch across valleys in the hillsides. These bridges, as well as the one on the Taplin project, are all concrete girder structures supported by drilled shafts.

All three bridges meander through the hillsides with two lanes supported by the actual span and two lanes supported by the large retaining walls.

“Our workforce is very experienced in this extremely steep terrain and our equipment fleet is matched to each job site,” said David P. Heeter, president of Heeter Construction. “We’re running two shifts and employing 40 to 50 people.”

Roy Tanner is serving as project superintendent for Heeter on this particular project.

Heeter Construction completed two other projects on Route 10 in 2000 and 2003. On these previous projects, blasting had to be done within 500 to 600 ft. (152.4 to 183 m) of residential and commercial areas and work had to be halted frequently to let vehicles pass during peak travel hours. The estimated daily traffic count on Route 10 is 12,000 vehicles.

Heeter moved more than 6 million cu. yds. (4.6 million cu m) of material during the three Route 10 projects.