Construction crews are replacing the concrete barrier walls on Interstate 70 and the Fort Henry Bridge over the Ohio River in Wheeling, W. Va., work that is expected to be complete before the end of the year.
Tony Clark, an engineer of the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH), told the Wheeling Intelligencer & News-Register Dec. 5 that after the new barriers are installed there will still be some repair work to concrete and steel underneath some of the bridges that make up the state project.
"Next year we might have a closure here and there, but it will be short-term," he explained, adding that his agency does not plan to have any ramps completely closed.
"If [any are] closed it will only be for a few hours in a day, [but not] for days and weeks," Clark noted.
Pending weather conditions, he said the work that motorists can see happening should be finished before January.
The $214 million WVDOH project involved the rehabilitation of 26 different bridges along I-70 from the Ohio state line east across Wheeling Island and through to the Middle Creek Road area in Wheeling. Swank Construction in New Kensington, Pa., is the general contractor on the job.
Renovation Also Done On 173-Year-Old Bridge
Meanwhile, a separate $17.9 million project by Advantage Steel & Construction of Saxonburg, Pa., to renovate Wheeling's historic Suspension Bridge also continues.
The Wheeling newspaper noted that the work to paint that span also is occurring, along with repair efforts to stabilize some of its main cables.
Wheeling's Suspension Bridge was built in 1849 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
When the structure was open to vehicle traffic it had a two-ton weight limit. In recent years, though, it has closed temporarily because of damage caused by oversized vehicles traveling on it, the Intelligencer & News-Register reported.
Additionally, over the years some of the bridge's support cables have snapped, forcing more closures, including in September 2019 when all vehicle traffic was banned from crossing it. Until then, it had been the oldest suspension bridge still in continuous use in the United States.
While the I-70 Bridges Project continues toward its conclusion, one walkway on the 1,010-ft.-long Suspension Bridge, which spans the river between Wheeling Island and downtown Wheeling, has remained open to allow pedestrians to walk across the structure.
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