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Options eyed for Washington Avenue bridge replacement

WHEELING — Two estimates have been received for the replacement of the Washington Avenue Bridge over Big Wheeling Creek, with a difference of nearly $1.5 million between options of leaving one lane open during construction or closing the route to traffic entirely during the bridge replacement.

The bridge is a primary traffic artery to Wheeling Hospital, which is now the greater Wheeling area’s only hospital since the Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital closed late last year.

Members of the Finance Committee of Wheeling City Council received an update this week on the Washington Avenue Bridge project.

Although the bridge is city-owned, officials have secured a significant portion of funding through the state to complete the project.

The city had applied through the state’s orphan road and bridge program for funding to replace the Washington Avenue Bridge, according to Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron.

“The state of West Virginia through the (Division of Highways) has agreed to fund 80 percent of the replacement of the Washington Avenue Bridge,” Herron noted.

“We have recently received cost estimates on replacement of the bridge.”

Alternate No. 1 has a cost estimate of $7,332,000.

“When council first agreed to participate in this program, the estimated cost was $7.5 million, so they’ve narrowed that down a little bit,” Herron said. “Alternate No. 1 is to close the bridge and replace it in place.

“Alternate No. 2 is to maintain one lane of traffic, demolish one half of the bridge, construct one lane, and then demolish the other lane while maintaining one lane of traffic on the new portion of the bridge. The estimated cost of that alternative is $8,773,000.”

“The preferred alternative through the (DOH), which is subject to public comment, is alternate No. 1, which is to close the bridge and replace it in place.”

The city is responsible for 20 percent of the estimated project cost, Herron said, noting that if alternate No. 1 is selected, the percentage the city would owe would amount to $1.4 million.

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