New Bridge Mulled

Wheeling officials are working on a plan to repair a small bridge that spans a section of Big Wheeling Creek between Fulton and the city’s Industrial Park since discovering one of the bridge’s box beams recently collapsed.

Russell Jebbia, director of public works for the city, said engineers are working on a plan to replace the box beams and decking of the Schenk Bridge after a small hole appeared on one side of the bridge.

Potential replacement of the bridge is among the items up for discussion when City Council’s Development Committee meets at noon Thursday on the first floor of the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St.

Jebbia said it was just a little over a year ago when a pothole first appeared on the opposite side of the bridge and crews found a collapse in the second box beam on the bridge, which they were able to repair. He said that was when they decided to rotomill the top surface of the bridge and check all the other box beams across the bridge.

“So we did a survey of the bridge, and it seemed (at that time) like everything was in pretty decent shape, except for the one (box beam) with a hole in it. So we went ahead and put a steel plate over top of it and repaved the bridge … but for some reason now the fourth box beam has a new collapse in the top of it,” said Jebbia.

He said there are a total of nine box beams in the construction of the bridge. He said the beam that now has a collapse in it “is one of the thicker box beams” in the bridge.

“Right now, since this fourth one has collapsed … we don’t want to take any more chances. So we’re looking at replacing the beams on the bridge, which is actually the decking on the bridge. … So we’re talking about replacing the bridge itself,” said Jebbia.

“Right now, the city engineer is working on a design. We’re looking into the possibility of replacing the box beams. … He is trying to get some quotes and also trying to get a time frame as to when they (box beams) could be fabricated,” he added. “Once we actually get the beams here, we think it could possibly be done within four weeks.”

Jebbia said the large trucks traveling in and out of Wheeling’s Industrial Park need to comply with the weight limits posted on the bridges in that area, including the Baker Street Bridge, which is located on the opposite side of the industrial park from Schenk Bridge. Jebbia said officials are also concerned with the Baker Street Bridge, because it will take the “burden of extra traffic” once Schenk Bridge is closed for repairs.

“In the meantime, with some of these heavier trucks, we are going to have to limit truck traffic on the Schenk Bridge. … We’re looking into if there is anything possible we can do to the Baker Street Bridge … to help reinforce it to allow heavier trucks to go across it for a time,” he added.

Schenk Bridge remains open to traffic, as city crews created a temporary fix by putting a large steel plate over the pothole.

Although much remains to be decided about the project, city officials already are thinking about how they will pay for it. According to a legal advertisement, the city wants to fund the work at least in part by reprogramming about $219,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding from the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Before voting to reprogram previously allocated CDBG funds, council must hold a public hearing. That will take place at noon April 2 prior to council’s regular meeting.

Staff Writer Ian Hicks contributed to this report.