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Road, bridge projects continue in West Virginia

CONSTRUCTION CONTINUES — Crews with Triton Construction of St. Albans, W.Va. continue construction of the new Harmon Creek Bridge, one of many ongoing projects for the West Virginia Division of Highways. -- Craig Howell

While the COVID-19 coronavirus has left many people working at home or on leaves from their workplaces, road crews continue to toil outdoors on area road and bridge projects.

As more people follow orders by public officials to remain at home, a decrease in traffic has helped the projects to remain on schedule though other factors also play a part, according to state highway officials.

“We have seen a noticeable drop in traffic, particularly on U.S. Route 70,” said Mike Witherow, construction engineer for the West Virginia Division of Highways’ District 6, which extends from Hancock County to Tyler County.

Witherow said the new Harmon Creek Bridge off U.S. Route 22 appears likely to be completed by late June.

Since last March, traffic on the bridge near the Harmon Creek/Cove Road exit has been reduced to one lane while crews worked to replace first the northbound lane of the bridge and, currently, the southbound lane.

Witherow said crews with Triton Construction of St. Albans, W.Va. have been working on the piers and abutments for that side of the span and soon will install the steel girders that will form the underside of its deck.

The $7 million project is among those funded by the Roads to Prosperity bond issue supported by voters in 2017.

Witherow said drainage work is slated to begin next week for a resurfacing project involving state Route 2 from Kings Creek Bridge to Rainey Hill Road.

He said the preliminary work is expected to take two to three weeks, after which paving is slated to begin.

Two-way traffic will be maintained in one lane, as needed, during the project, so drivers should expect delays.

Witherow was asked about a section of Route 2 south of Wellsburg that has been reduced to one lane following a slip that left a wide crack in its surface.

Crews with the Flatiron Corp.of Broomfield, Colo. have temporarily patched the slip with cold patch asphalt. Witherow said when asphalt plants begin producing for the season, a more permanent fix will be applied.

“We’re going to re-open it to two lanes as soon as the asphalt is ready,” he said.

Witherow said crews continue to build a more than half-mile-long retaining wall along the highway intended both to secure the hillside beneath the road and widen it for vehicles approaching the new Ohio River bridge.

The wall was proposed in Flatiron’s $131 million bid for the project.

The span will extend from an area about a mile south of Wellsburg to the intersection of Third and Cleaver streets in Brilliant.

Witherow said crews are proceeding with construction of the span itself, with two piers on the Ohio side now above the river and work begun on foundations for two West Virginia piers.

Work also continues on the bridge’s 830-foot main span from an assembly yard just south of Wellsburg. Plans call for the 4,000-ton segment to be transported by barge and lifted on the piers with large jacks.

Witherow said the project is targeted for completion in November 2022.

In addition to planned improvement projects, district highway officials have been dealing with a number of slips throughout the district.

Among them is one along Allegheny Street just outside of Follansbee. Last week the street was reduced to one lane while crews worked to secure the slip.

Charlie Swart, acting district maintenance engineer, said a series of long, metal shafts have been drilled at various angles beneath the roadway.

The shafts often are called soil nails but actually serve to “stitch together” shifting soil with stable ground, he said.

Swart said much of the work has been completed, though there may still be work to restore the road or affected guardrail.

Witherow said more projects are on the horizon as the district prepares for construction season.

They include the application of a high friction surface, designed to reduce skidding, to westbound sections of U.S. Route 30 between Chester and state Route 8 and replacement of the Long Run Bridge near Castleman’s Run in Bethany.

The state Division of Highways is seeking contractors for the two projects.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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