Heavy lifting carried out on the Wellsburg Bridge | News, Sports, Jobs
WELLSBURG – A major part of the new Ohio River Bridge – the 830 foot long main span – is now in place after many hours of planning and work by many people.
And the task of moving and lifting the 4,100-ton structure, which was to take place over two days, was completed in less than 12 hours.
Today’s operations were a major milestone in construction of the bridge, which will run from WV 2 approximately a mile south of Wellsburg to the intersection of Third and Clever streets in Brilliant.
Adam Mathews, chief operating officer of Flatiron Corp. of Broomfield, Colo., The contractor for the $ 131 million project, said Monday’s operations had ended. “Very, very well indeed. Everything went exactly as planned.
First, six sets of red interlocking hydraulic jacks were inserted under the span of the Wellsburg assembly yard behind the Smith Oil gas station where it was built.
The jacks had been transported from Louisiana by four tandem barges, which were also used to transport the span about a mile south on the Ohio River.
About two and a half hours later, the span reached an area just south of its future location.
“The tugs did an absolutely excellent job turning the span,” Mathews spoke about the craft used to position the structure in the river for his next big move.
Mathews noted that each jack on the barge was capable of lifting 5,000 tonnes.
Together they were used to raise the span by about 80 feet, at a rate of about 6 feet per hour, and on the innermost piers of the bridge.
This operation was completed in several hours.
Mathews said it was the largest tethered arch span to be transported in this manner by Flatiron, but not the heaviest structure to be lifted by the company using jacks. The heaviest was a 5,000-ton section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge built by Flatiron in 2013.
He said the fine weather on Monday prompted the decision to proceed with both phases in one day.
Bad weather had caused them to be postponed three times. Mathews said cool temperatures were not a major concern for those planning the big move, but high winds and choppy water were.
He added that Flatiron and the West Virginia Department of Transportation have been in contact with the U.S. Coast Guard for some time, so arrangements could be made to have this area of the river closed to all other traffic.
Mathews said help was also provided by the Army Corps of Engineers, as the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department deployed their boat to deter curious boaters and other law enforcement agencies assisted with traffic control and safety along adjacent highways.
“We warmly thank everyone involved,” he said, adding that this includes the engineers who planned the move and the various workers who built the span and its piers.
Mathews noted that there is still work to be done. The jacks were to be lowered and returned Monday night or early today.
And crews will continue to work on other aspects of the bridge, including pouring concrete for the 60-foot-wide deck, which is supported by a frame of epoxy coated rebar; the extension of the existing span of approximately 200 feet on the national road 7 to Brilliant; and a half-mile retaining wall along Highway 2.
The wall allows the road to be extended to the river, eliminating the need to dig the adjacent hill and reducing project costs.
Although the span is not expected to be completed until October or November 2022, its progress on Monday has sparked the interest and excitement of many onlookers on both sides of the river.
Many gathered near Wellsburg’s Sixth Street Wharf, the city’s neighboring water plant lot, along Third Street in Brilliant and other sites to watch the move.
Some said it was a development they thought they would never see – and that they didn’t want to miss.
Debbie Ulrich of Wellsburg remembers hearing about a Wellsburg-Brilliant Bridge 60 years ago when her father, the late Hugh Newell, was working as a steelworker at Mingo Junction.
“I would have liked my father to be there to see him” she said.
Retired journalist Matz Malone acknowledged that the idea of a bridge between the two communities dates back many years before the Veterans Memorial Bridge, the most recent link between Steubenville and Weirton, was completed in 1990.
“Everyone said, we need a bridge, we need a bridge, but that was one of those things where the timing wasn’t right,” he said.
Malone noted that strong supporters for the bridge included the late Anthony Cipriani Sr., mayor of Wellsburg from 1981 to 1989; to Sue Simonetti, who died on March 30, in her 12th and final year as mayor of the city.
“Sue kept the fire going. It’s a shame she can’t be there to see it, ” he said.
Linda Edwards from Wellsburg came to Sixth Street Wharf with her husband, retired dentist Dave Edwards, to see the move.
Asked her opinion on the bridge, she said, “I think it’s fantastic and I think he will be such an economic leader in this area.”
Edwards said she hopes the duration will help attract new industries to the city.
“My father was mayor here and they were talking about a bridge 60 years ago”, Retired law enforcement officer Jim Bailey said as he watched from Brilliant.
“I think it will be a good thing,” he said, adding that he plans to travel to Wellsburg to do his shopping when the bridge is finished.
Wells Township Administrator Allison Yanssens said the bridge has sparked interest in property development near the bridge, while many residents welcome an alternate route for their daily commute to work.
Dennis Boggs of Martins Ferry, who watched from Third Street, said: “When I was working, I would have loved it. It would have saved me a lot of time.
But the spectacle of the span moving also drew in visitors who did not expect any personal gain from the bridge.
Penny Smith, of Tappan Lake, said she has followed the development of the bridge with interest.
“I just couldn’t wait to see how they were going to do it,” she said adding, “It’s so amazing.”
Mark Dunkleman of Cincinnati said he heard about the bridge while doing business in Pittsburgh and needed to see it personally.
“It’s a pretty incredible feat of engineering that they are doing,” he said.