Elm Grove Stone Arch Bridge To Be Updated
DOH planning to give $5.8M to improve 202-year-old structure
WHEELING — The oldest bridge in West Virginia — which is located in Elm Grove – is scheduled to be rehabilitated by the state Division of Highways early next year after two centuries of deterioration.
The division is planning a $5.8 million project to improve the 202-year-old Elm Grove Stone Arch Bridge, also known as the Monument Place Bridge, without tearing it down.
The three-span arch bridge, located where National Road crosses Little Wheeling Creek, has seen major deterioration in its stone masonry since it was built in 1817.
The Division of Highways, or DOH, maintains that the bridge needs to be rehabilitated or replaced at a new location in order to ensure that it is safe for vehicles and pedestrians and can handle the volume of traffic on National Road.
The “preferred” option that the DOH is pursuing for the bridge is rehabilitation, the design for which is slated to be finished in the fall with construction to start in early 2020, according to an information guide on the project.
“The bridge is 200 years old, and it needs to have some work done to it for us to keep it in operation as a vehicular bridge,” said Sondra Mullins, DOH historical services unit leader.
The 208-foot bridge, one of the oldest in the country, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. It is one of two West Virginia bridges located along the National Road, the other being the Wheeling Suspension Bridge.
“The bridge is a unique and a rare example of a stone arch that features the elliptical style of arch geometry,” according to the DOH.
The structure was built by Col. Moses Shepherd, who used his influence with then-Sen. Henry Clay to ensure that the limestone bridge and U.S. 40 would run closer to his own estate, according to the Ohio County Public Library.
Concrete sidewalks were added to the bridge in 1931, and in 1958 a concrete veneer was added to the structure, giving it the appearance of a concrete arch bridge. Since then, parts of the veneer have fallen off, revealing the stone masonry underneath.
Per the project’s environmental assessment, work planned for the bridge includes:
∫Removing the existing roadway, overhangs and fill
∫Repairing the bridge’s stone foundation and adding scour protection
∫Placing new fill and constructing a new roadway with sidewalk overhangs and railings
“Instead of dismantling the stone masonry, the structure will be cleaned and repointed in place. Isolated damaged stones will be replaced where necessary and feasible,” according to the DOH.
Mullins said the DOH is using engineering and architecture firm HDR out of Weirton as a consultant to plan the rehabilitation work. Previously, the division held a public meeting on the project on March 19 and held a public comment period through April 19.
The division received five comments with none in opposition to the project, as the DOH is trying to “save the bridge,” Mullins added.
Next, the DOH plans to have an environmental assessment for the project cleared by June. According to the schedule, construction would finish up in early 2021.
Construction on the bridge would also block traffic on National Road, and the DOH drafted a plan for temporary automobile and truck detours while the work is occuring.
The detours include routing vehicles around Interstate 70 to reach destinations south and north of the bridge. More details are available online at transportation.wv.gov.