Orange Barrels Coming; Every Bridge on I-70 Set To Be Renovated

WHEELING – Traveling public, take note: the West Virginia Division of Highways intends to renovate every bridge and overpass along Interstate 70 through Wheeling over the next eight years as part of an $68.87 million restoration plan.

The highways department also plans to spend an additional $9.9 million during that time frame to renovate and replace several other spans throughout the county, for a grand total of $78.77 million.

That means prepare for an onslaught of orange barrels.

District Six bridge engineer Dave Sada said actual costs and work completion dates compiled by the department’s design team are “moving targets” because of the time span involved.

“We only have so much money to work with,” Sada said. “If an emergency develops, we may have to take money from one project and move it to another one,” meaning work being planned now could be delayed.

He said two cost factors that could negatively impact the projects would be inflation and increased deterioration from now until work begins. The Wheeling Tunnel project, for example, suffered from both factors, as work began four years after completion of the initial design plan, leading to higher bids from contractors and also an increased scope of work due to new problems being discovered.

“Project bids usually go out four or five months in advance and a lot can happen between now and then,” he said.

Most spans will undergo total renovation while others may be cleaned and painted, resurfaced, get new expansion joints or, in some cases, be replaced. Renovation may include work on the bridge deck, steel components of the substructure and superstructure and concrete piers.

Sada said the interstate bridges – built in the mid-1960s and carrying a daily traffic count of 29,000 vehicles – are safe but showing their age.

“We inspect them annually to keep an eye on any deterioration,” he said.

Possibly the worst stretch of I-70 right now in Ohio County is on the Wheeling Tunnel’s east side, where huge potholes in the overpass take their toll on vehicles.

While the work will create some traffic flow interruptions, Sada said the goal is to minimize congestion.

“We have to do the work,” he said. “At times that may require rebuilding one-half of a bridge at a time while maintaining traffic flow on the other half. We always have I-470 as a backup but it is unlikely we will ever shut down I-70 entirely.”

Projected I-70 bridge and overpass renovation timeline

  • Clean and paint Middle Creek overpass eastbound – $98,000 – spring 2012
  • Clean and paint ramp connecting U.S. 250 to I-70 eastbound – $44,000 – August 2012 to June 2013
  • Clean and paint Middle Creek overpass westbound – $84,000 – August 2012 to June 2013
  • Pave first overpass east of Wheeling Tunnel’s westbound lanes – $4.48 million – November 2012 to January 2014
  • Pave Wheeling Tunnel overpass eastbound and westbound – $1.4 million – February 2013 to September 2013
  • Pave I-70 overpass at Fulton westbound – $8.4 million – February 2013 to September 2013
  • Pave first overpass east of Wheeling Tunnel’s eastbound lanes – $4.5 million – March 2013 to March 2015
  • Replace expansion joints, Middle Creek overpass – $13,000 – July 2013 to October 2013
  • Pave ramp connecting U.S. 250 North to I-70 westbound – $200,000 – February 2014 to September 2014
  • Pave I-70 overpass at Fulton eastbound – $9.5 million – April 2014 to April 2016
  • Pave ramp connecting U.S. 250 north to I-70 westbound – $554,000 – November 2014 to November 2016
  • Pave ramp connecting I-70 eastbound to U.S. 250 south – $3.9 million – February 2015 to February 2017
  • Pave Middle Creek overpass westbound – $574,000 – November 2015 to November 2016
  • Pave Back Channel bridge, located west of the Fort Henry Bridge – $10.8 million – March 2016 to March 2018
  • Pave Middle Creek overpass eastbound – $510,000 – November 2016 to November 2017
  • Pave Elm Grove bridge eastbound – $17 million – March 2017 to March 2019
  • Pave Fort Henry Bridge – $2.63 million – March 2018 to March 2019
  • Pave Mount DeChantal Bridge westbound – $4 million – November 2018 to November 2020

Projected Cost for I-70 bridges – $68.87 million

Other Ohio County bridges and overpasses timeline

  • Replace superstructure, Twilight Bridge, Middle Wheeling Creek – $460,000 – January 2012 to December 2012
  • Replace Dixon Run bridge at Ohio County 29 – $800,000 – May 2012 to July 2012
  • Replace McDonald’s Bridge At Glenn’s Run – $1.1 million – May 2012 to July 2012
  • Clean and paint the overpass on W.Va. 2 near Ohio Valley Medical Center – $4.3 million – June 2012 through November 2012
  • Painting and lighting on the Wheeling Suspension Bridge – $400,000 – July 2012 through July 2013
  • Renovate Monument Place Bridge, Wheeling Creek – $2 million – May 2013 through May 2014
  • Replace Bear Rock Bridge, Wheeling Creek – $825,000 – September 2013 through August 2014

Projected cost for other bridges – $9.9 million

Total projected cost for all bridges – $78.77 million