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Swank Construction Leads $73M I-79 Widening Project

Thu September 07, 2023 - Northeast Edition #19
Brenda Ruggiero – CEG Correspondent


The original contract amount was $72,566,238.20 and the current contract amount is $73,571,419.07.(WVDOH photo)
The original contract amount was $72,566,238.20 and the current contract amount is $73,571,419.07.(WVDOH photo)
The original contract amount was $72,566,238.20 and the current contract amount is $73,571,419.07.(WVDOH photo) The Fairmont White Hall Bridge was imploded on March 23, 2023.
(WVDOH photo) Notice to proceed was given on April 5, 2022, and the current adjusted completion date is Oct. 28, 2024.
(WVDOH photo) A temporary bridge has to be constructed below the roadway bridge in order to position cranes in the proper lifting positions to hoist new girders into their proposed locations and to maneuver equipment back and forth across the river.(WVDOH photo) Swank Construction has approximately 30 to 60 employees on site depending 
on which labor-intensive work 
activities are being performed from week to week.
(WVDOH photo) The contract was awarded to Swank Construction Company LLC, with Matt Schultz serving as site superintendent and Cary Basinger as project manager.
(WVDOH photo)

A large West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) project is widening Interstate 79 to three lanes in each direction from Harrison County, W. Va., to the Pennsylvania state line.

The contract was awarded to Swank Construction Company LLC, with Matt Schultz serving as site superintendent and Cary Basinger as project manager.

The original contract amount was $72,566,238.20 and the current contract amount is $73,571,419.07.

Notice to proceed was given on April 5, 2022, and the current adjusted completion date is Oct. 28, 2024.

"This project consists of the construction of two ‘drilled pile and lagging' retaining walls, lane addition to the Middletown Mall Overpass Bridge, demolition and reconstruction of the Tygart Valley Bridge, Kingmont Overpass Bridge and Millersville Bridge," said Jason Nelson, District 4 construction engineer of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways.

In addition, the contract includes various drainage structure installation, site development activities, utility relocations, slope stabilizations, 12,000 linear ft. of median barrier wall and approximately 3.4 mi. of a 12-ft. wide lane addition to both northbound and southbound lanes.

"The most challenging part of this project is trying to construct the above-mentioned construction activities in a safe and controlled manner while maintaining two lanes of traffic and minimizing delays for the traveling public," Nelson said.

He added that the project is unique because it is 100 percent federally funded and the existing grade/cross slopes of I-79 needed to be corrected to meet the requirements of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Major subcontractors include Advantage Steel and Construction for the Tygart River Bridge girder erection, Pritchard Lighting and Signal for the highway lighting, Mid Atlantic Maintenance for highway pavement markings/signage, MP Dory for overhead highway signage and Stone Paving for asphalt placement.

Nelson said that Swank Construction has approximately 30 to 60 employees on site depending on which labor-intensive work activities are being performed from week to week.

Earthwork for the project includes approximately 148,447 cu. yds. of earthen material. Concrete consists of approximately 12,949 linear ft. of median barrier wall and approximately 10,000 cu. yds. of cast-in-place concrete for structural elements.

More than 8 million lbs. of steel will be needed for the Tygart River Bridge steel superstructure alone.

"The demolition and erection of the Tygart River Bridge is extremely difficult due to it being located over navigable waterways, phased construction bounded by a tight construction footprint, and the safety of construction workers and traveling public," Nelson said. "A temporary bridge has to be constructed below the roadway bridge in order to position cranes in the proper lifting positions to hoist new girders into their proposed locations and to maneuver equipment back and forth across the river."

The southbound portion of the South Fairmont West Virginia Arch Bridges in Marion County was demolished on March 22. These bridges spanned the Tygart River near the White Hall exit. The southbound bridge was built in 1960 and the northbound bridge was built in 1966.

County Route 60, Vinegar Hill Road, was closed for a time to allow work crews to remove the existing bridge.

Only authorized personnel were allowed within the explosives loading/handling area. The explosives charges were not detonated until the area was clear of all traffic and personnel. Veit & Company Inc's Senior Blaster Shannon North, a subcontractor in charge of the blast, went door to door to notify nearby residents. Swank Construction had two boats on the river to stop boat traffic.

"Our situation required precise controlled demolition of an existing arch span over a navigable waterway," according to Swank on Veit & Company's website. "To meet interstate traffic phasing requirements for the project, portions of the newly constructed bridge were located within inches of the structure that was being taken down. The industry knowledge displayed by Veit's personnel throughout the planning and operations stages of the demolition, along with Veit's attention to detail and safety-first mentality allowed the structure to be taken down safely without incident, with minimal disruption to interstate and river traffic, and in a manner that allowed retrieval of the demolished bridge components to be completed quickly and efficiently." CEG


Brenda Ruggiero

Brenda Ruggiero has written for CEG for over 20 years. She lives near the town of Accident in far western Maryland. Her favorite assignments so far involved interviews with Survivor’s Boston Rob and hot dog eating champion Joey Chestnut. Both were involved in construction at one time.

Brenda holds a BA in Mass Communication with a writing focus from Frostburg State University and minors in Public Relations and Political Science. She works full time as a staff writer for a weekly newspaper, the Garrett County Republican. She enjoys feature writing the most, which gives her the opportunity to talk to people and share their stories.

Brenda and her middle school sweetheart, Reuben, have been married for over 34 years and have three grown children and four cats.


Read more from Brenda Ruggiero here.





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