Bridge Still Closed Following Bus Incident
WHEELING — The Wheeling Suspension Bridge was still closed to motorists Monday, more than two weeks after a charter bus far in excess of the span’s two-ton weight limit crossed the national landmark causing the structure to be closed for an undetermined amount of time.
West Virginia Division of Highways District Bridge Engineer Patrick Gurrer confirmed the state agency received an inspection report from HDR Engineering Inc. of Weirton, but they are still waiting for an evaluation of that report.
“We are going to review it (the evaluation), and come to a plan of action afterwards,” Gurrer said.
He said they are just asking the public to be patient throughout the evaluation process and he is hopeful the situation will be resolved as soon as possible. He said he realizes the travel importance and historical significance of the bridge to the local community.
Gurrer, who walked across the span with crews from HDR Engineering Inc. earlier this month, said they were taking a much closer look at the span following the incident on June 29 where a charter bus crossed the structure from Wheeling Island. He said they planned to examine the entire structure. In the meantime, “Road Closed” signs have been posted at both ends of the historic structure.
The span was closed after a Pennsylvania based Lenzner Tour and Travel/Coach USA bus crossed the structure around 6:45 p.m. June 29. Information provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation indicates that a loaded bus of that size may weigh up to 20 tons, which far exceeds the span’s two-ton weight limit.
The driver of the bus was cited by Wheeling Police for driving an overweight vehicle across the structure and failure to maintain a traffic control device, according to Philip Stahl, public information officer for the Wheeling Police Department.
The bridge has long been plagued by closures due to overweight vehicles crossing. In 2016, Wheeling police led an information campaign to advise residents of a heavyweight fine of up to $1,600 and possible impoundment for violating the bridge’s weight limit. The bridge has also been occasionally closed due to traffic accidents.