Bids for I-70 work coming

• Mid-July will see two-year rehab project awarded

Photo by Joselyn King The West Virginia Department of Highways expects the rehabilitation of bridges along Interstate 70 in Ohio County to cost $170 million, and bids for the work will be opened next month. The projects are to be paid for by a $1.9 billion road levy passed by West Virginia voters last fall.

WHEELING — The bid for the $170 million rehabilitation of bridges along Interstate 70 in Ohio County will be awarded in mid-July, with work and traffic headaches expected to last two years, according to an official with the West Virginia Division of Highways.

David Brabham, acting director of West Virginia Division of Highways District 6, explained the scope of the project Thursday at WesBanco Arena to those attending a discussion on progress and changes in the state. The event was organized by the West Virginia Business Improvement Council.

Work will involve the rehabilitation of 7 miles of interstate beginning at the Ohio-West Virginia border and 22 bridges along the stretch of highway. Some of the bridges will see the replacement of their decking and concrete, while others will be totally rebuilt.

The expected completion date is June 2020, and Brabham acknowledged traffic is “going to be a nightmare.”

At times, the Wheeling Tunnel is going to be closed “on one side or the other,” he said.

“We’re going to have a lot of congestion,” he said. “It’s going to be incredible.”

Other local road projects also are in the works. The Wellsburg Bridge project is scheduled to be ongoing into 2020, while the realignment of W.Va. 2 through New Cumberland isn’t expected to be completed until 2021. Another project to make W.Va. 2 in Marshall County a four-way road from Kent to Franklin also will take three years. By 2022, the four lanes will be extended from Franklin to Proctor.

In total, $450 million is going to be spent on roads in the Northern Panhandle within the next four years. And during that time, $2.4 billion will be spent on infrastructure improvements statewide, Brabham said.

In October, West Virginia voters approved the $1.9 billion “Roads to Prosperity” bond issue to pay for the projects.