While it is still too early in the project to pinpoint a completion date, the new Wellsburg Bridge in West Virginia continues to take shape.
More than two years after the groundbreaking ceremony for the bridge, crews with the Flatiron Corporation of Broomfield, Colo., continue constructing the piers and supporting structures across the Ohio River between Wellsburg and Brilliant, Ohio.
The span will eventually extend 1,600 ft. across the river and will include a massive 830-ft. tied-arch span, which is being constructed along the shore a short distance upriver from the piers near Wellsburg.
While the tied-arch span was initially set to be transported downriver on barges and hoisted into place onto the bridge piers this fall, that date has been pushed back to sometime early next year, possibly in March or April, according to Tony Clark, a District 6 engineer with the West Virginia Department of Transportation's Division of Highways (WVDOT DOH).
Currently, the completion date for the entire structure is set for late 2021.
Awarded in 2016, the $131 million Wellsburg Bridge is Flatiron's first project in the state and West Virginia's first alternative delivery project. According to former WVDOT DOH District Construction Engineer Joe Juszczak, Flatiron plans to eventually transport the enormous tied-arched span down the Ohio River and lower it onto the piers from 80 ft. in the air using jacks positioned on barges.
Juszczak said when they do move the tied-arch into place, river traffic through the area will be shut down for a 72-hour period. With an estimated weight of 4,000 tons, the tied-arch span is believed to be the heaviest structure to be lifted in such a way in the United States.
In the meantime, crews continue performing hillside retaining work as they shore up the embankment where the bridge will eventually intersect with West Virginia Route 2. The speed limit has been lowered to 40 mph in the construction zone between Wellsburg and Beech Bottom where steel piling is being set in place below the roadway.
When finished, the bridge will extend across the river from WV Rt. 2 about a mile south of Wellsburg to the intersection of Third and Clever streets near Ohio Rt. 7 in the small community of Brilliant.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice was on hand with Brooke County officials when ground was broken for the span in July 2018.
He said the Wellsburg Bridge is a collaboration of the West Virginia and Ohio departments of transportation, and both have drawn on federal highway money to finance it. The states also have signed an agreement in which West Virginia will pay 65 percent of the span's cost and Ohio footing the bill for the remaining 35 percent.