DOH to Discuss Stone Bridge Project Alternatives Tonight

WHEELING – A public meeting to discuss the fate of the Elm Grove Stone Bridge is slated from 4-7 p.m. today at Bridge Street Middle School, 19 Junior Ave., Wheeling.

The West Virginia Division of Highways is hosting the meeting to allow people to talk about the proposed rehabilitation or replacement of the structure, also known as the Monument Place Bridge. No formal presentation is scheduled to be made, but the public can ask questions and offer their input. There are a few alternatives the DOH is considering that range in price from $3.024 million to $4.8 million.

One alternative is to build a new bridge 833 feet upstream from the current one. Doing so would involve relocating a portion of U.S. 40 onto Lumber and Coal avenues. The new bridge would be smaller and have no sidewalks.

Other alternatives involve repointing the stone blocks and replacing the existing bridge’s concrete covering. In addition to rehabilitation, another plan calls for construction of a new load-carrying system to prevent the stone arch from being overloaded. Another calls for installing bars through the stones for reinforcement of the arch or applying fiber wraps.

A no-build alternative calls for workers to maintain the structure as is, although the DOH notes maintenance costs will ”significantly increase as the structure continues to deteriorate.”

While fishing near the bridge Wednesday afternoon, Tyler Brock, 15, of Wheeling said he hoped the old bridge would remain in service. He recalled fishing near it with his father when he was just 5 and 6 years old.

”They could just put more concrete on it. … I like the old bridge. I don’t want to see it go,” Brock said.

According to the DOH website, regardless of the alternative chosen, the existing historic bridge will remain. The project is not expected to begin until sometime in 2013.

Written comments also will be taken until July 2. Send them to: Gregory Bailey, Director Engineering Division, West Virginia Division of Highways State Capitol Complex, Building 5, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East, Charleston, WV 25305.

The bridge, constructed in 1817 over Little Wheeling Creek, is the oldest bridge in West Virginia. The concrete sidewalks were added in 1931, while the concrete coating was placed over the stone in 1958. Pieces of the concrete have fallen off the sides of the bridge, allowing the stone blocks to show through.