One Memorial Bridge Lane Open During Ongoing Rehabilitation | News, Sports, Jobs
PARKERSBURG — Three months ago, traffic flowing simultaneously over the Memorial Bridge in two directions was standard operating procedure.
When there’s only one lane of traffic open during the $50 million rehabilitation project that began in mid-March, it doesn’t work.
It happened – again – on Thursday afternoon, after a vehicle moved forward despite the red light, and two lines of traffic met, without impact, in the middle. There were no collisions, bridge officials said, but when two lanes of traffic meet, back up and turn around.
“It seems people see the stop light as a stop sign,” said Emily Myers Duke, director of communications for Parkersburg Bridge Partners.
The company is a subsidiary of Colorado-based United Bridge Partners, which completed the purchase of the 67-year-old toll bridge from the city of Parkersburg earlier this year. Under the terms of the agreement, the company will rehabilitate the bridge so that it has a useful life of at least 50 years.
Kokosing Construction Company is the general contractor for the project, which will include the complete removal and replacement of the bridge deck, a new paint and coating system, the replacement of the existing bridge parapet handrail, repairs to the steel superstructure, repairs to concrete piers and columns, new LED pavement and decorative lighting and repaved and upgraded bridge approaches. It is expected to be completed by November 2023, after which toll collection will move to a fully electronic system and the price of a ride is expected to drop from 50 cents to $1.
The bridge is expected to completely close in the last month and a half or so of this period as work on the Ohio side will be too close to the Main Street and Ohio 7 traffic lights to allow vehicles to back up, said Matt Lewellyn, project engineer at Burgess & Niple, the owner’s engineer on the project.
Until then, the plan is to keep the bridge open, mostly one lane at a time.
“We want to make sure the bridge is open so the traveling public can use it easily,” said Duke.
It gets harder when people ignore the stop light at either end of the bridge. Parkersburg police have advised officers to increase patrol and enforcement around the approach to the bridge, Chief Matthew Board said.
“The average waiting time is about three minutes”, said Lewellyn. “If it’s red, there’s a reason, and it’s because traffic is still clearing at the other end.”
Another problem is that people drive slowly, he said, adding that 25mph is the ideal speed.
“It keeps everything moving and provides us with a safe working environment for our workers and…for our drivers,” said Duke.
There are many new temporary additions to the bridge. Along with the workers, construction equipment and the barrier anchored in the middle, a series of corrugated iron panels were placed above and below the driving surface. They are part of a system designed to contain paint, rust and coating removed from bridge components, Duke said.
“It’s environmental protection” said Lewellyn. “We are not disclosing anything. They monitor and monitor this.
This system was developed and certified by engineers, not randomly assembled, he said.
Cables attached to the panels also allow workers to anchor themselves as they move across the structure.
Large tarps draped along the sides of the deck are also part of the containment system, while helping to create a more controlled environment for painting, Lewellyn said.
“This tarp will move from one section to another”, he said.
Traffic will move from one lane to the other as work is done to replace the various sections of the deck. The open steel grid design will be replaced with a cast-in-place concrete deck system.
Parts of the bridge have already been removed in the closed lane. Lewellyn said concrete is expected to be poured there in July.
Segments of the existing driving surface were removed to the grid in lines parallel to the support beams, Lewellyn said. While the bridge was closed in March and April, some of the welds that secure the bridge to the superstructure were removed to reduce the stress that had built up there, officials said. Some of the welds have been replaced and bracing added to keep the bridge structurally sound, Lewellyn said.
Work is also underway on the reinforced concrete piers under the West Virginia approach. The rust has grown over the years on parts of the rebar, deteriorating some sections of concrete covering it, Lewellyn said. Workers remove small sections and the rust underneath, then replace them with new mortar, a process he likened to filling a cavity.
The bridge remains safe and structurally sound, Duke said, noting that United Bridge Partners has extensive experience rehabilitating bridges while they remain in service.
“We know it doesn’t look pretty right now,” said Duke. “The analogy we used is a bit like renovating a house. … It will be something that I think the people of the Mid-Ohio Valley can be proud of.
Evan Bevins can be contacted at [email protected]