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WV Bridge Floated into Place

Friday, April 30, 2021

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On Monday (April 26), the new Wellsburg Bridge connecting Brooke County, West Virginia’s Route 2 and Brilliant, Ohio’s Route 7, was floated into place by a couple of barge captains.

The historical load was reported to be West Virginia’s first alternative delivery project.

Wellsburg Bridge

Awarded to Flatiron Construction for $131 million by the West Virginia Department of Transportation in March 2016, construction for the project launched in April 2018 and was carried out completely offsite. According to Flatiron, the project was proposed by WVDOT to improve transportation infrastructure as well as enhance regional business growth.

“We’ve been working for close to 30 years on it and it’s been a long time coming,” Wellsburg Mayor Sue Simonetti said at the project’s groundbreaking. “It’s not just going to benefit Wellsburg, it’s going to benefit the whole Northern Panhandle.”

Wellsburg is finally getting a bridge to Ohio!! ????????

Posted by Pam Wright Kins on Tuesday, April 27, 2021

As part of the alternative delivery method, Flatiron proposed building a tied-arch bridge main span that would be constructed offsite, upriver and delivered by barge to the project site for installation. For the project, Flatiron worked with partners, including RS&H, TRC Engineers, and COWI North America.

The contractor noted that through the project’s design-build approach and public-private partnership, the project was able to reduce the project’s timetable estimates. Flatiron also said that the goal for completion for the WVDOT was based on traffic volume projections and the need for a safe and reliable span for commerce and emergency responders.

Sink or Swim

Earlier this month, WTOV Channel 9 first reported that the structure was scheduled to float own river April 20-21. However, just a day before the scheduled float, officials revised the dates due to weather concerns, claiming that the bridge would be floated and lifted into place over on April 22, 23 and 26.

Due to the highly sensitive nature of the actions being performed during this operation, officials pointed out that execution would not be possible if river and wind conditions weren’t favorable.

After several years of building on the banks of the Ohio River, WVDOT released this schedule in anticipation of the engineering marvel:

Day 1 – Friday, April 23

  • 7:30 a.m. – Media begins to arrive, check in and set up
  • 8:30 a.m. – Bridge will be floated out to the middle of the river
  • 9 a.m. – Bridge will be floated downriver between the piers in the river
  • 11 a.m. – Bridge will turn 90 degrees
  • 1 p.m. – Bridge will be pushed upriver and positioned ready for lifting into place

Day 2 – Saturday, April 24

  • 3 a.m. – All systems and positioning will be checked
  • 3:30 a.m. – Bridge will be lifted to the height needed to position over piers
  • 11:30 a.m. – Once in the air, the bridge will be pushed upstream over the bridge piers
  • 12:30 p.m. – Once in position, the bridge will be lowered onto the piers and positioned
  • 3:30 p.m. – Once on the piers, jacking system will be lowered to clear the bridge
  • 4 p.m. – Barges with jacks will be pushed back upstream to barge slips. Once this action is completed, all river traffic will be cleared.

As planned, the structure was raised to the necessary height and floated by barge one mile down the Ohio River that Friday but wouldn’t be lowered into place onto the existing trestles and piers until Monday and Tuesday morning.

“A remarkable feat going on even as we talk. They floated it downstream, pivoted and are in the process of jacking it up,” said West Virginia Division of Highways Engineer Jimmy Wriston.

The Division of Highways was reported to have livestreamed the entire trip.

“It’s another Ohio River crossing and gives you a little redundancy,” said Wriston. “A lot of our bridges are aging and in need of some work. This gives us a vital place to cross over so we can enjoy more, and more interstate commerce between us and the rest of the country.”

The project is expected to reach full completion by October 2022 and is under Gov. Jim Justice’s Roads to Prosperity plan.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Contractors; Contracts; Department of Transportation (DOT); Design build; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Ships and vessels; Transportation

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