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New W.Va. 9 bridge expected to take three seasons to build

July 19, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The bridge that will carry the new four-lane route for W.Va. 9 over the Shenandoah River in Jefferson County will be about 1,765 feet long, which amounts to nearly six football fields, according to the engineering director for the West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH).

Work on the bridge is projected to take three construction seasons to complete, according to state highway officials.

The bridge, which will be about 190 feet above water level, was designed to avoid any disturbance of the scenic nature of the area, Gregory L. Bailey said. By comparison, the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, W.Va., is 876 feet high, a mark that makes it one of the highest bridges in the world.

On schedule to be advertised next year, the Shenandoah River bridge is the last segment of work left to be completed on the four-lane highway from Martinsburg to the Virginia state line, Bailey said.

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Work on a section between the bridge and Charles Town was delayed by a federal review of plans to protect the habitat of a small crustacean that lives in the construction area, but Bailey said that would not delay the state's schedule for opening the section of highway.

"The completion date for traffic on this section of W.Va. 9 has not been changed in any way as we have worked through the issue because of the construction time of the bridge," Bailey said. "Completion (of the bridge) will dictate the opening of the highway and its schedule is not changed in any way" from the original date in the 2008-13 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

Closer to completion, meanwhile, are the last three sections of W.Va. 9 to be built between Martinsburg and Charles Town, said Kenneth L. Clohan Jr., the acting DOH area engineer for the Eastern Panhandle. The segments are projected to be done by the end of August 2010, Clohan said.

That date is nine months later than a projected completion time that a DOH project manager cautiously offered in an interview in December 2007.

As of last week, the section from Eastern Regional Jail to the Opequon Creek bridge was 83 percent complete, followed by the section from the bridge to ID Van Metre Road near the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (62.7 percent), Clohan said in an e-mail sent Friday.

The last section from ID Van Metre Road to Leetown Road in Jefferson County was about 22 percent complete, Clohan said.

The first portion of the highway between Charles Town and Martinsburg opened to traffic in August.

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