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Hi-Way Modernizes W. Va.’s Country Road

Tue December 12, 2006 - Northeast Edition
Tracy Carbasho

The West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) has gotten a jump start on its list of 2007 projects by taking to heart the old saying “out with the old and in with the new.’’

In particular, construction is under way on a new state Route 9 between Charles Town and Martinsburg in the Eastern Panhandle of the Mountain State.

“The Route 9 project is necessary because of the significant traffic volume and the obsolete design of the existing road,’’ said William Shanklin, an area construction engineer in District 5 of the DOH. “The existing road is one lane in each direction and it has numerous curves. Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of residences that have direct access to it.’’

For decades, Route 9 was considered just another country road that was not well traveled. Over the years, however, the communities along the road have grown and the average daily traffic count is now approaching 15,000 vehicles.

Shanklin noted that Jefferson, Morgan and Berkeley counties, through which Route 9 meanders in West Virginia, are considered bedroom communities to Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

The road was originally constructed during the 1930s and has been maintained on a regular basis. Shanklin said it makes more sense from an economic and safety standpoint to replace the road rather than continually trying to improve it.

“It is not feasible to upgrade Route 9 because of the geometry of the road and the fact that we would have to wipe out residences,’’ he said.

The part of Route 9 currently under construction is being paved by Hi-Way Paving Inc. of Hilliard, Ohio. Paving the 4.5-mi. (7.2 km) road that runs east-west between Charles Town and Martinsburg began in August as part of a $17.7 million contract.

“We’re doing the paving and all of the finish work including the signs, lighting and striping,’’ said Mike Durst, project manager and senior estimator of Hi-Way Paving. “We’re about 50 percent complete and expect to finish the project in August 2007.’’

Shanklin said four grading and drainage contracts with other companies were required to prepare the road for paving. This part of the project was completed in a manner that enabled contractors to use the dirt excavated from cuts as fill material where necessary.

“The project has been rather straightforward with the biggest challenge being the coordination of resources and materials,’’ said Durst. “This project has nearly 28,000 cubic yards of cement-treated, open-graded base that is placed under the actual concrete pavement. Approximately 48,000 cubic yards of concrete pavement will be used and we’ve already done about 32,000 cubic yards.’’

Durst said the new road will feature two 12-ft. (3.7 m) lanes in each direction. The 10 concrete ramps are a minimum of 16 ft. (4.9 m) wide. All of the pavement is 10 in. (25 cm) thick with dowel baskets at the transverse joints on 15-ft. (4.6 m) spacing with no required wire reinforcement. The open-graded, cement-treated base underneath is 4 in. (10 cm) thick and consists of No. 57 stone and Portland cement.

The shoulders will be 10 in. (25 cm) thick, consisting of 6 in. (15 cm) of asphalt base, 2.5 in. (6 cm) of asphalt intermediate course and a 1.5-in. (3.8 cm) thick course of skid-resistant asphalt surface.

Durst said crews have been working a minimum of 10 hours per day five or six days a week. Ten work days were lost in September and a few in October due to heavy rain, but the project is still on track to meet the projected completion date.

The company has stopped paving due to the onset of wintry weather, but will return to the site in March to prepare the remaining grade and then resume paving in April. Durst said just a little more than 1 mi. (1.6 km) will remain to be completed when work begins again in the spring. Five of the ramps have already been completed, leaving only five more to be finished. CEG

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