WHEELING, W.Va. – The Washington Avenue Bridge is set to close for repairs on Monday, Jan. 3 for approximately 30 days. The repairs come on the heels of an inspection by the West Virginia Division of Highways that indicated significant deterioration of the bridge and the need for emergency action.
City Manager Robert Herron explained that the bridge is in imminent risk of some shifts that would require the bridge to be closed for an extended period of time. However, the pending repairs will provide additional time until the bridge can be replaced. City council took emergency action earlier this month to hire Quality Steel Erecting Inc. of St. Clairsville to perform the necessary repairs.
With regard to emergency response, Fire Chief Jim Blazier said the fire department is prepared for the closure.
“Because a reduced weight limit on the bridge was implemented some time ago, we have already adjusted the running schedules to address response times. We will continue to do that. We also have alternate response routes and contingency plans for unforeseen traffic events so we do not increase response times for that section of Wheeling,” Blazier said.
The Washington Avenue Bridge is slated for replacement through a partnership between the WVDOH and the City. Its replacement date is yet to be determined. The WVDOH has agreed to fund 80 percent of the overall cost of the replacement, while the City will fund the remaining 20 percent. The total cost of the project is about $7.8 million and it will be administered by the WVDOH.
“We recognize the inconvenience this temporary closure will cause, but these urgent repairs are necessary to ensure that the bridge, which is a main traffic artery connecting National Road to Interstate 70, remains solid and functional for the next few years while the WVDOH is putting together our project,” Herron said.