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Washington Avenue Bridge in Wheeling To Reopen by Mid-February

Photo by Alan Olson - The Washington Avenue Bridge in Wheeling, closed since Jan. 3, is scheduled to reopen in the second week of February after necessary repairs to the span are completed.

WHEELING — The closure of the Washington Avenue bridge that links National Road with Interstate 70 and WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital is estimated to end in the second week of February.

City of Wheeling Public Works Director Rusty Jebbia said that the work beneath the bridge has been progressing nicely with few hiccups, aside from inclement weather. Crews from Quality Steel Erecting, Inc., of St. Clairsville, have been hard at work improving the support structure beneath the bridge over the course of January, following its closure on Jan. 3.

Jebbia said he hopes the completion date would come before Valentine’s Day weekend, with an estimated total work time of five weeks.

“We’re hoping within the next two weeks,” Jebbia said. “This was supposed to be a four-to-five week long project, weather permitting. … So far, it’s been going very good. With the weather and that, it should be done by the second week of February.”

Jebbia said the work consisted of repairing the beams beneath the bridge, the phalanges which hold them together, the rivets, and additional patchwork.

“There was a lot of deterioration and corrosion, they’re knocking all the old rivets out, replacing the phalanges underneath the bridge, it’s all structural work,” he said. “They’re welding and patching some holes in the beams.”

The restoration work, Jebbia said, will hopefully serve to keep the bridge standing for up to 20 more years. In the long term, he said, the bridge was eyed for complete replacement, but other road projects in the area took priority.

“The whole idea, originally, was that we’re trying to get that bridge replaced,” Jebbia said. “Based on the inspections we’d had in the past, it had gotten to a poor condition and we had to do something, so we were trying to get the bridge replaced. But with all the other projects going on in the city, the interstate, and ‘humpback’ bridge in (Elm) Grove, it just sort of ended up getting pushed further and further back.

“In the meantime, we were able to have a company come in and do this repair work for us, which, we’re hoping, will give us 10, 20 years, that’d be great,” he continued. “We may be able to get that out of it with these repairs.”

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