DOH’s Sikora Vows Less Bumper-to-Bumper in ’13

With memories of bumper-to-bumper traffic still fresh from the recent completion of a $4.5 million repaving project on Interstate 70 through Wheeling, the West Virginia Division of Highways is gearing up for even more extensive work on I-70 in 2013.

According to WVDOH District Engineer Daniel Sikora, the division plans to finish repaving the highway from the Washington Avenue interchange all the way to the Pennsylvania state line. He estimates the repaving will occur from March to October and will cost about $6.7 million.

“By the end of next year, all of I-70 will be caught up with paving,” Sikora said. “It’s good to get the work done. It’s been in planning for years and finally they’re putting some funding toward it, so we’re glad to get it in our district.”

Drivers who remember the headache-inducing traffic in October need not worry as much about the spring paving project, according to Sikora. He said the recent I-70 project required the removal of old concrete before workers could repave the road, which required around-the-clock roadwork and constant lane restrictions. He said since the stretch from Elm Grove to the state line doesn’t need as much concrete removal, repaving should be completed more quickly and with less disruption of traffic.

“I don’t think it’s going to be as bad,” Sikora said. “It will mostly be done at night and will open up traffic during the day. There might be some traffic disturbance, but it won’t be as extensive as the other job was.”

Sikora said new pavement lasts about eight to 10 years, but Wheeling’s freeze-thaw cycles tend to “push” the pavement up and down, which causes it to deteriorate in about eight years.

Drivers should also expect more roadwork in late summer, when the WVDOH begins two lighting projects on I-70 that will extend from the Ohio state line to the Pennsylvania state line. Workers will be renovating or replacing poles and installing high-mast poles at several interchanges. The project is expected to begin in May and will last for about a year.

An $80 million, eight-year bridge renovation project for all bridges on I-70 from the Wheeling Tunnel to Elm Grove is also in the works, but according to Sikora, construction on that project will probably wait until 2014.

“They’re getting old – they were build back in the 1960s. It’s time to start renovating the bridges. Over the years, we’ve been doing decks and repairs, but they got to the point where they need major repairs now. After all, I-70 was one of the first interstates built.”

He said the bridge reconstruction project is still in the design stage and the WVDOH will begin advertising for contracts in late 2013.