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Public meeting set on replacing Tenn. Ave. bridge in Martinsburg

April 18, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The cost of replacing a small North Tennessee Avenue bridge over Tuscarora Creek in Martinsburg is projected to cost at least $1.4 million, according to the West Virginia Division of Highways.

Built during the Great Depression, the existing steel I-beam span is limited at 15 tons and now falls within criteria to qualify for federal funding, said Jason Foster, who leads the design section of the Division of Highways’ engineering division. The bridge is on state-maintained county Route 13.

The project is on track to be done next summer, but Foster said at a public meeting in Martinsburg Tuesday that the state first wants public input on design and construction options.

The deadline to submit comments to the Division of Highways is May 17.

The Division of Highways wants to know if residents would object to North Tennessee Avenue being completely closed to speed up the project’s completion, Foster said.

The agency also wants feedback on whether the new bridge should include a sidewalk, Foster said.

The new bridge is proposed to be 42 feet long and about 28 feet wide, which would allow for two, 11-foot travel lanes and three-foot shoulders, Foster said.

The current bridge is about 29 feet long and 19 feet wide and there are no shoulders, according to Foster.

If the road is completely closed for the project, Foster said the bridge could be replaced in about three months — while Berkeley County Schools were closed for the summer.

Residents could be detoured onto Old Mill Road, which like North Tennessee Avenue, also provides a connection from West King Street to City Hospital, according to a packet of information distributed at the meeting.

Tamsen Molenda, whose property is next to the bridge, was one of the few residents to visit with state officials in the first hour of the three- hour, workshop-style meeting held at Tuscarora Elementary School.

Molenda said she believes the bridge needs to be replaced, but didn’t support the addition of a sidewalk, noting there is no existing sidewalk on either side of the current span now.

City Manager Mark Baldwin, who also attended the meeting, confirmed there are no plans to build sidewalks on either side of the bridge, citing the expense of such a project.

At least one resident in the nearby Briarwood development, however, vigorously supported the addition of a sidewalk.

Molenda said she didn’t oppose the road being closed if that would mean speeding up the project’s completion.

Foster said keeping the bridge partially open while the work is under way could extend the length of the project into the fall and possibly the following year.

Extending the length of the bridge, meanwhile, would allow DOH officials to address the flow of the creek beneath the span, and Foster also noted that the state intends to take steps to protect old hand-set stone walls that were built on both sides of the road.

Comments about the project can be submitted on the state Department of Transportation’s website at www.transportation.wv.gov, or mailed to Gregory Bailey, P.E., Director, Engineering Division, West Virginia Division of Highways, Capital Complex Building Five, Room 317, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East, Charleston, WV, 25305-0430.

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