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New sections of W.Va. 9 to include advanced paving

December 16, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - The $67.6 million price tag for the last sections of the W.Va. 9 project to be built from Martinsburg to Charles Town, W.Va., will include 12 bridges and two 1,000-foot slabs of concrete pavement being studied by three West Virginia University professors.

With the road slated to be completed in November 2009, state Division of Highways officials gave the contractor awarded the last of the three sections notice to proceed last week.

"We really have to rush that (portion)," DOH project manager Martin Dougherty said. "It's going to be a tight schedule."

The $29.1 million in earth-moving and paving work awarded in November to St. Albans, W.Va.-based Orders Construction Co. includes six of the 12 bridges, Dougherty said. The section will be built between Leetown Road in Jefferson County and ID Van Metre Road near the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Baker Heights in Berkeley County.

The first of the three sections from the Eastern Regional Jail to the Opequon Creek bridge was 65 percent complete at the end of November, acting area engineer Ken Clohan said. Already poured in the $15.6 million section are two 1,000-foot slabs of concrete pavement that WVU civil engineering professor Hota GangaRao said Friday would demonstrate substantial advances in extending the life of concrete paving.

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"You cannot eliminate cracking," GangaRao said.

One slab was poured with steel rebars and the other contains glass fiber reinforced polymer composite rebars, GangaRao said. The professor predicted the glass fiber material would help the section of road last 50 to 60 years, effectively doubling the typical life expectancy of concrete paving.

"It's a demonstration project. We have already done all the preliminary work in the lab," GangaRao said. He and fellow colleagues P.V. Vijay and Roger Chen have conducted the research.

The difference in life expectancy was based on research that showed the glass fiber material resulted in a 50 percent lower rate of cracking than steel as well as a reduction in the width of the individual cracks between the two, GangaRao said.

The concrete also bonded more effectively with the glass fiber than the steel and did not corrode, GangaRao said.

"We are applying for a grant to monitor (the W.Va. 9 site) for the next three years to evaluate the response," GangaRao said.

Though more expensive (an additional 1 percent to 2 percent cost increase to a project), GangaRao said he expects the use of glass fiber will allow concrete paving to eventually overtake asphalt paving because of success with the innovative material in Europe.

The $22.9 million section of the highway from Opequon Creek to ID Van Metre Road is about 42 percent complete, Clohan said.

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