Ahern Up For Pair of Projects

WHEELING – While two major construction projects in the Northern Panhandle may cause headaches for local motorists, it is just another day on the job for the company in charge of the work.

Ahern and Associates of South Charleston recently began work on the Market Street Bridge in Brooke County and will oversee renovation work on the westbound tube of the Wheeling Tunnel when it begins Feb. 1. Gene Thompson, vice president and general manager for the company, said he does not foresee any problems with handling two big projects at the same time.

“The jobs aren’t too big for us,” he said. “We are more than capable of handling these projects simultaneously.”

Thompson said two separate crews and management teams will handle the individual projects and that there will be no overlap of the crews working at each site.

“We’re not going to be spread thin in the tunnel because of the work on the bridge,” he said.

Thompson said the company’s work last fall on the eastbound tube of the tunnel shows him that there should be no problems over the course of the project. “The first phase of the tunnel went extremely smoothly, and we finished ahead of schedule,” he said of the eastbound repairs. “We do not anticipate any problems this time.”

Thompson said he is aware of the problems associated with the tunnel, particularly the dissatisfaction of local residents with the job done by the Velotta Co. of Sharon Center, Ohio. He said that during the first phase of his firm’s tunnel work last year, he would receive calls on a regular basis asking if there were any problems or delays to report. Thompson said that while he is unable to comment on the job done by the Velotta Co., he can assure local residents that this round of work is in capable hands.

“The only thing I am responsible for is our company and what we do,” he said. “We work projects all over the state, and we are well in touch with our jobs and know what is going on at every site.”

Earlier this month, West Virginia Division of Highways spokesman Brent Walker said he “feels comfortable” with the contractor and that the state has no reason to believe any problems will arise during the bridge and tunnel projects.