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West Virginia transportation news

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Washington Ave. Project To Begin in July

Key --

1. Washington Avenue is a key link east of Wheeling.

2. The existing bridge is 49 years old (1958 const.).

3. The cost is $6.3 million and will be completed in two years. Work on the project begins in July and will involve demolishing 1/2 of the span while a new one is constructed -- while traffic utilizes the other 1/2 -- and switching sides one year later.

4. The existing span has three lanes. The new bridge will feature five and will be 73 feet wide and 211 feet long. The existing intersections will also be improved.

Article information: "Washington Ave. Project To Begin in July, By FRED CONNORS, Wheeling News-Register, 4/16/2007"

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Bridge expected to be completed by November

blennerhassettbridge018et.jpg

Key --

1. The new Corridor D (US 50) bridge over the Ohio River is expected to be completed on November 30.

1a. High winds caused delays and pushed the expected completion date from September.

1b. 75% of the bridge is now complete.

2. In January, a major milestone was reached when the keystone piece that connect the two halves of the bridge's arch was completed.

3. The $122 million bridge is the largest, single highway contract awarded by WVDOH.

3a. It is 4,009-ft. long.

4. Through April and into May, crews will finish erecting the steel girders and then start work on the concrete deck installation.

5. ODOT is currently working on the future US 50/OH 7 interchange.

Article information: "Bridge expected to be completed by November, By BRETT DUNLAP, Parkersburg News and Sentinel"

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Group says Route 2 plans are falling on deaf ears

Notes --

1. In 1998, the West Virginia Route 2 and Interstate 68 Authority was created to lobby state officials to allocate money to improve WV 2 and construct Interstate 68. Howevre, the two highways could not be found anywhere on the six-year improvement plan adopted by WVDOT.

2. WVDOT has stated that there are limited dollars available, and that more pressing concerns -- such as improving roads in the rapidly developing eastern panhandle -- take higher priority.

3. One major project that was recently completed was a $67.3 million, 2.17 mile expansion of WV 2 from two to four-lanes from Weirton (US 22) to Follansbee. This was also a hillside resloping project.

Article information: "Group says Route 2 plans are falling on deaf ears, By WARREN SCOTT, Herald Star [steubenville], April 25, 2007"

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New Wellsburg, WV to Brilliant, OH Ohio River bridge? :dontknow:

Citizens hope to expedite bridge construction

Map of the area

Notes --

1. U.S. Senators Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller have secured $18 million in federal funding for the planning, design and initial construction of a proposed bridge in an area south of Wellsburg, West Virginia to Brilliant, Ohio. It would cross the Ohio River. The span would also benefit Washington, Pennsylvania.

2. WVDOH is negotiating with a consultant to perform a study to identify a specific location.

3. The new bridge has an estimated price tag of $80 million to $100 million total.

4. Others want to bridge to be closer to the Fort Steuben Bridge, which connects Steubenville, Ohio to Weirton, West Virginia. It is slated to be closed and demolished in 2009. Or closer to the Market Street Bridge, which is 100 years old and needs replacing.

5. A study conducted several years ago stated a new bridge was needed in the area should the two older bridges (listed above) be closed.

6. A group of residents stated that closures along WV 2 -- due to numerous land slides -- necessitates the need for a new span.

7. Some are advocating WV 2 to be widened to four-lanes, although a new bridge to Ohio would connect to an already four-lane OH 7. It would also be far cheaper, where widening a 2 mile segment of highway (for WV 2) can exceed $66 million dollars.

Article information: "Citizens hope to expedite bridge construction, By WARREN SCOTT, Weirton Daily Times, Friday, April 27, 2007"

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Byrd backs Raleigh project funding

Notes --

1. US Senator Robert C. Byrd supports transferring funds for the WV 9 Martinsburg Bypass to the Raleigh Street extension.

1a. The city of Martinsburg and the Berkeley County Commission have both sent letters to Byrd to request the transfer of $13 million that was set aside for the WV 9 Bypass project in 2005 to the Raleigh Street extension project.

2. The Raleigh Street extension is a project aimed at relieving traffic congestion along Queen Street.

2a. Both senators of WVa allocated $10 million to the Raleigh Street extension project in 2005 -- in conjunction with the $13 million that was allocated for the WV 9 Bypass project.

3. The movement of funding from the WV 9 Bypass project to the Raleigh Street extension project would bring total funding just $6 million shy of the $32 million needed. The city of Martinsburg has received $13 million in funds for the project -- a $10 million federal earmark, a $2 million state match, and a $1 million city match.

4. The design of the roadway could take 12 to 18 months.

Article information: "Byrd backs Raleigh project funding, By CARA SPAZIANI, The Journal [Martinsburg], May 10, 2007"

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Heartland Corridor

Heartland Corridor group meets Thursday

Notes --

1. The Heartland Corridor is a Norfolk Southern rail line that stretches from Hampton Roads, Virginia to Chicago, Illinois. The line would be open to double-stack container trains and would offer a more direct route between Midwestern cities and international shipping ports in Virginia.

2. In Virginia and West Virginia, $95 million has been earmarked in federal funds. In those states, 24 overhead obstructions need to be moved, and 29 tunnels must have their clearances enlarged.

2a. Most of the tunnels are in West Virginia.

3. Construction of the Corridor also includes three major intermodal facilities.

3a. One is located at Prichard along US 52 in Wayne County, about 30 minutes south of Huntington. It is located at the southern most point of shipping along the Big Sandy River (which leads to the Ohio River).

3b. The West Virginia Legislature passed a bill earlier in the year that earmarks up to $4.3 million for the intermodal center -- serving rail, highway and river.

3c. The money hinges on whether the Port Authority determines that the Prichard intermodal facility is sustainable -- a study that will be completed in August.

4. The double-stacked containers -- containers that are used on cargo planes and cargo ships -- would reduce transit times and costs for shippers.

5. The completion date for the Heartland Corridor is June 2010.

Article information: "Heartland Corridor group meets Thursday, By Bryan Chambers, Herald-Dispatch, Monday, May, 14, 2007"

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West Virginia Route 9

Progress steady on much-traveled W.Va. 9

Notes --

1. Work is staying steady along WV 9. The section from Kearneysville to the existing limited-access Charles Town bypass is 90% complete in Jefferson County. Work now involves the shoulder paving and grass seeding.

1a. Construction of the road bed from the turnoff at WV 115 (CR 115?) in Ranson west to Leestown Road (CR 1) has been completed in Jefferson County. Another contract to pave the 5.5 miles is under way. The new four-lane road will also be connected to the existing Charles Town bypass.

2. Towards Martinsburg, contractors have been working on two sections between the Eastern Regional Jail and Opequon Lane (CR 9/17) in Berkley County.

3. Another contract for work between Opequon Lane (CR 9/17) in Berkley County and Kearneysville in Jefferson County will be advertised soon. Once that happens, the segment from Martinsburg to Charles Town will either be complete or under construction.

4. The relocation is four-lanes and will run north of the existing WV 9, crossing old WV 9 at Opequon Creek in Berkeley County. It will then follow south of WV 9, have an intersection at Opequon Lane, and tie in at Kearneysville in Jefferson County.

5. The projects in Jefferson County might be completed by fall 2007. They have been under construction for "several years". The total cost will be $50.5 million. This includes paving at $17.7 million, the construction of frontage roads at US 340 and the southern part of the Charles Town bypass at $2.5 million. The latter will be complete in July.

6. In Berkeley County, the two projects underway total $38.5 million and will be finished in fall 2008 or 2009.

7. Financing is coming from 80% federal, 20% state.

Article information: "Progress steady on much-traveled W.Va. 9, By LAUREN HOUGH, Journal [Martinsburg], May 23, 2007"

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Bike path to offer motorists alternative

Notes --

1. Along a 10-mile stretch of WV 9, from Charles Town to Martinsburg, a paved bike path is under construction or unofficially open. Paving began over the winter.

1a. The first part from Charles Town to Kearneysville will open when the new segment of WV 9 opens -- at the end of 2008. The second section, from Kearneysville to the Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg, could be open by the end of 2009.

2. The new trail is parallel to WV 9 but does not utilize the main roadway. At least two parking lots will be added for the bikers.

3. The new bike path was "nearly 13 years coming". The first meeting with WVDOH was held in 1994 at the Cliffside Inn in Charles Town. The trail proposed at the time was the Eastern Panhandle Natural Connector. It was first suggested as an off-road bike path. Over time, meetings with the DOH, the state Division of Tourism, and rail trail groups discussed the option.

4. The Eastern Panhandle Transit Authority is considering adding bike racks to the PanTran buses.

Article information: "Bike path to offer motorists alternative, By LAUREN HOUGH, Journal [Martinsburg], May 23, 2007"

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I-64 bridge will break U.S. record

I-64 bridge will break U.S. record, by Elaine McMillion, Charleston Daily Mail, June 13, 2007

Progress is being made on a three-year project to construct a new Interstate 64 bridge over the Kanawha River between Dunbar and South Charleston. The new span will carry three 12-foot-lanes of through traffic and one 12-foot auxiliary lane -- for eastbound traffic, while the original span will carry westbound traffic. Construction began in May when crews began excavating the area in South Charleston where the new piers will be constructed. In Dunbar, crews recently began on the clearing of trees. Piers will soon be erected by the end of the year. The project should be complete by October 29, 2010 at a cost of $83 million. The concrete span was cheaper than the steel alternative, which came in at $112 million.

The new span will be the longest continuous segmental span at 2,975 feet with a main span of 760 feet. The deck has a width of 67-foot. The span will feature seven piers, five on flat land and two on the river bank. It will also be constructed using the balanced cantilever construction method, which has never been used on a project of this size in the state. It is only used when it is difficult or impossible to erect scaffolding. Crews will pour one 15-foot concrete segment at a time -- and there are 168 segments in total.

The need for the bridge is great. The interstate is six-lanes on both approaches, however, the existing Interstate 64 span has only four-lanes. The curve at the west end of the span has an accident rate of 137 per hundred million vehicle miles, well above the urban interstate accident average of 85 per hundred million vehicle miles. 70% have been rear-end accidents.

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New I-64 bridge construction started

New I-64 bridge construction started, By Rick Steelhammer, Charleston Daily Mail, June 14, 2007

Construction on the new $82.8 million Interstate 64 Kanawha River crossing will take more than three years, but there should be no delays until the project is nearly complete. The new continuous segmental span will be the longest in the United States, and possibly in all of North America.

Work began recently in the vicinity of the former S. Charleston Red Roof Inn on two of the new span's seven pier sites. Piers will also be built on Wilson Island and near the river's shorelines, but none in the river itself.

Upon completion of the new span, the existing bridge (one of the largest steel girder bridges in the United States), built in 1974, will be re-decked and retrofitted.

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U.S. 35 work in Putnam ahead of schedule: Drought helping massive highways project

By Alison Knezevich, Sunday Gazette-Mail, June 22, 2007

The US 35 corridor project, from the Crooked Creek interchange at Interstate 64 to West Virginia Route 34, is ahead of schedule. Work began on the alignment last November (although the ramps were graded long ago) and should be completed by July 2008. Rainless weather and local contractors have sped up construction. When complete, the new four-lane US 35 will be a 35-mile corridor highway from Crooked Creek in Putnam County to Point Pleasant in Mason County. It is expected to decrease congestion on the existing US 35, a narrow and heavily congested roadway.

It will cost a large sum of money to complete, however. The segment from Interstate 64 at Crooked Creek to the Buffalo Kanawha River span will cost $200 million.

Currently, four more sections of the new highway are in the planning phase. It will be a six-mile stretch of highway from West Virginia Route 34 to Hurricane Creek Road. Clearing of the right-of-way will not be done until May 2009, however. In March, the West Virginia Department of Transportation awarded a $74 million design-build contract for that section. Elsewhere, construction is ongoing on the new flyover span and Crooked Creek bridge over Interstate 64. The bridge project began in March and will be finished this fall.

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Bridge remains last major hurdle for Corridor D

By BRETT DUNLAP, The Parkersburg News and The Parkersburg Sentinel, June 27, 2007

The majority of the Parkersburg Corridor D project is complete, with the Blennerhassett Bridge as the last major hurdle left in the project. The only major section of roadway left to construct, according to a recent West Virginia Division of Highways report released on May 25, is the Ohio River span. It was 79% complete as of the time of the report, and should be complete by late November 2007. work has continued on the bridge throughout, and there was been very little rainfall to impede the workers' progress.

Of the 21 sections of the Corridor D project listed in the report (the Parkersburg bypass), five sections were listed as being 95% complete. Work is progressing on those sections, and the whole project should be complete by November 30.

The $120 million Ohio River span is the largest, single highway contract in the state's history. The 4,009 ft. span will complete the four-lane upgrade of US 50 from Clarksburg to the Ohio state line. It was one of the original 23 Appalachian corridors selected in 1965 under the Appalachian Development Highway System.

Other projects in the area include,

1. A traffic operations and safety study on WV 14 from the intersection of Emerson Ave. in Parksburg to 28th St. in Vienna. It should be done in August.

2. Upgrade WV 14 to four-lanes from Wood County 21/34 to Wood County 21/15. Work should begin in January 2009. It will complete four-lane widening from Interstate 77's Mineral Wells interchange to the Patriot Center in south Parkersburg. The project plans could be done by August 2008.

3. Relocate and upgrade WV 14 to four-lanes from the northbound exit/entrance ramps of the Interstate 77 to Wood County 14/1. Work should begin in March 2009.

4. Widen Interstate 77 to six lanes, including two bridges over the Little Kanawha River, from 0.7 mile south of WV 47 to the north end of the WV 47 47 interchange bridge and construction for the replacement and widening of the Interstate 77 Camden Avenue (WV 95) interchange bridge deck to six lanes are both scheduled to begin in April 2009.

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Motorists in for bumpy ride on W.Va. Turnpike

Herald-Dispatch [Huntington], June 20, 2007

The West Virginia Turnpike is deferring about $147 million in maintenance over the next five years due to faltering revenues. An attempt to raise tolls was defeated by a Kanawha County Circuit Judge last year; the tolls have not been raised since the late 1980s, giving the toll road the distinction of having gone the longest without raising tolls to match inflation and rising costs of construction materials.

With the deferred maintenance, _no_ segments will be repaved. The bare-bones budget calls for $127 million in pavement repair, $5 million to overlay decks on bridges, $2.5 million to paint the spans, $3.4 million for guardrails, $500,000 to correct slope problems, and $9.63 million to repair culverts -- some of which were laid more than 50 years ago on the original Turnpike.

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Disrepair could lead to hike in turnpike tolls

Herald-Dispatch [Huntington], July 4, 2007

Several lawmakers said that plans to delay major maintenance work on the West Virginia Turnpike may be the first step towards mounting a campaign to increase tolls on the 88-mile highway. Toll rates have not kept up with inflation in construction costs or general inflation, and have not been raised since 1981 -- the longest of any major toll road.

Moye (D-Raleigh) and other lawmakers in areas served by the turnpike reacted to last week's announcement that $147 million in maintenance will be deferred over the next five years as the Parkways, Economic Development and Tourism Authority cuts costs. Governor Joe Manchin ordered the Authority to cut the costs and shed itself of business dealings that are not related to the roadway itself, excluding the Tamarack. Funding highway operations have been a vested interest since a Kanawha County circuit judge ordered the Authority last year to roll back toll increases. The authority had increased tolls from $1.25 to $2 for passenger cars, and from $4.25 to $7 for five-axle commercial trucks.

Sen. Shirley Love said that if tolls are increased, it should come at the expense of out-of-state motorists.

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Parkways chairman says top priority is Tamarack, not Turnpike tolls

By The Associated Press, July 06, 2007

The chairman of the Turnpike's governing board says the top priority is to move the Tamarack to another agency. The _Parkways, Economic Development and Tourism Authority_ is not actively seeking a toll increase, said Joe Martin, the governor's representative on the authority. It is currently focused on retiring the Tamarack's remaining $7.9 million in bond for initial construction costs, so that another agency can assume control of the state's arts and crafts showcase, which is located along the Turnpike in Beckley.

The deferral of maintenance along the Turnpike may be the first step towards a campaign to increase toll on the 88-mile turnpike, which has not seen an increase since 1981 -- the longest of any major tolled facility. Delegate Ricky Moye (D-Raleigh) stated that, "There is no magic bullet that corrects the deficiencies or that paves all of the turnpike. It's supported by revenues generated through user fees. At some point, as with any turnpike or any user fee-supported service, increases are necessary to maintain the services.''

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Tamarack bond payoff plan expected soon

By Phil Kabler, Charleston Gazette, July 11, 2007

A plan to pay off the remaining $8.2 million in construction bonds for the Tamarack in Beckley could be approved as early as next month. It is a key step in transferring operations of the facility from the state's _Parkways, Economic Development and Tourism Authority_ to the Department of Commerce. At the Tuesday meeting, members instructed the bond counsel to come up with a proposal tot pay off what will be a remaining $2.2 million in bond debt. That is after the Authority uses $3.7 million in an economic development account and $2.3 million from the pending sale of its interests in the CASCI building in downtown Charleston. The Department of Commerce includes the state's Development Office and the Division of Tourism.

Another option is to refinance the Authority's other bonds at lower interest rates, using the savings to retire the Tamarack's bonds. Also at the Tuesday's meeting --

1. It approved a $9 million, 4.3-mile repaving project from the Harper Road interchange to the US 19 North Beckley interchange. That section of the Turnpike was initially slated for six-lane widening, but the plans were removed after the toll hike of January 2006 was rolled back.

2. Approved an increase in hourly pay for temporary toll and maintenance workers from $7 to $7.50 an hour, and increased pay for temporary employees with CDLs to $7.75 an hour.

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Work nearly complete on Blennerhassett Bridge

By George Hohmann, Charleston Daily Mail, July 13, 2007

The new US 50 (Corridor D) Blennerhassett Bridge over the Ohio River will open to traffic in late November, completing Corridor D in West Virginia. It is the largest single highway contract in the state's history at $119.9 million; another large project with a very high price tag released recently was the new Interstate 64 eastbound span over the Kanawha River in S. Charleston at $83 million (for comparison).

The four-lane span is 4,008-foot-long and will be the longest span in the state, and the longest network-tied-arch bridge in the United States. The arch itself will not set a record, however. The 2,634-foot West Virginia approach and the 496-foot approach on the Ohio side use a concrete pier, steel girder design. The steel girders can exceed 400 feet and are the largest in the state of West Virginia. The main span is 878-feet over the main channel of the Ohio River, from the island to the state of Ohio.

Work began in April 2005 and construction peaked in the summer of 2006, when there were approximately 120 workers on-site daily. Today, there can be anywhere from 60 to 70 on the job. The span was originally slated for opening on August 14, but will now be done on November 30 -- still on a very aggressive schedule.

The tied-arch design is like an archer's bow, in that the ends of the arch are tied into the "string" - huge tie girders that run the length of the bridge deck. The outward-directed horizontal forces of the arch are borne by the tie girders rather than the ground or bridge foundations. The tie girders in this bridge and the arch rib -- the bow part -- are hollow boxes, made so workers can easily walk through and inspect and maintain them. The "network" in the bridge name refers to the inclined cable stays that hang from the bow to the bridge deck. The cable stays hold up the tie girders, which hold up the roadway.

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Progress ahead: Top WVDOT official expresses commitment as roadway projects move forward

By Charles Owens, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, July 14, 2007

Contractors should be in the Bluefield area to construct a new segment of the King Coal Highway (US 52). The $16,311,900 million contract will construct a bridge over Stoney Ridge, a process that will take two years to complete. It was put out to bid earlier in July. The new spans will be 160 feet aboe U.S. Route 19 and a Norfolk Southern railroad. This is part of the next phase of the highway project, which will extend the corridor highway towards Stoney Ridge, West Virginia Route 123, and the Mercer County Airport.

This fall, a contract could be awarded along the Coalfields Expressway.

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Byrd urges Senate to OK funding

By LAUREN HOUGH, Journal [Martinsburg], July 20, 2007

A new segment of WV 9 could be completed sooner if federal highway appropriations in legislation, proposed by Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) are approved by the US Senate. The governor is pushing for the $26 million in construction funding for state highways in the fiscal year 2008 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill. It has already passed the Senate Approperiations Committee, which the senator chairs.

$10 million of the money would be dedicated to the WV 9 project, with the rest split amongst high-risk roads throughout the state. For the WV 9 project, if the funding is approved, the state will advertise bids for the segment of highway near the U.S. Coast Guard from Kearneysville to Martinsburg, which includes four bridges. It would complete the new highway from Martinsburg to Charles Town. Any money left over would be moved to the next WV 9 project between Charles Town and the Virginia state line.

Other projects that will receive appropriations funding include the Coalfields Expressway near Sophia, the King Coal Highway bridge project near Bluefield, and WV 2 along the Ohio River.

Robert C. Byrd has secured more than $155 million for WV 9 since 1992.

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Highway authority looks to the future

By GIOVANNI P. ROSSI, Weirton Daily Times, July 24, 2007

Three projects are scheduled to begin soon, according to the State Route 2 and Interstate 68 Authority, a group dedicated to promote a four-lane highway from Chester to Parkersburg, and an interstate from Morgantown to Moundsville.

The first project will be in Marshall County, where in February 2009, work will begin on a .95 stretch of highway that will be upgraded to four-lanes. The cost of the project is $5.5 million. The second project is 1.4 miles of highway from Interstate 77 east to Valley Mills Road in Wood County. The five-laning project, projected to start in January 2009, could be bidded out in November 2008. The project cost is $9.2 million. The last project is the replacement of the two-lane Interstate 77 bridge. scheduled for 2010. It will cost $9.2 million.

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Prichard facility discussed

By Jean Tarbett Hardiman, Herald-Dispatch [Huntington], July 25, 2007

A new intermodal facility at Prichard, WVa was the topic of discussion Tuesday night. The terminal would be a "key stop" along the Heartland Corridor, a major railroad corridor for double-stacked trains that allows them to transfer more goods in one trip. The line will stretch from Newport News, Virginia to Columbus, Ohio, and will cut through western West Virginia. It is being spearheaded by the Heartland Corridor Working Group, and could be finished by July 2010.

Prichard provides easy access to a major Norfolk Southern rail line, major roadways, the Big Sandy River that flows into the Ohio River, and the Tri-State Airport. The intermodal center will result in at least one more train per day.

Funding is no major issue. The state Legislature approved this year, Senate Bill 559, which earmarked up to $4.3 million a year for 10 years for the intermodal center, and other similar efforts in the state. The money would join $90 million in federal dollars and $20 million from the Norfolk Southern railroad for construction on the facility and for the tunnel clearances.

The corridor's plan includes heightening several tunnels along the route that would allow for double-stacked containers on trains, as well as three intermodal facilities for easier transfer of containers between railroads, rivers, roadways, and airways. Prichard's proposed $18 million facility is one of those sites, and could draw in as many as a dozen businesses involved with the transfer of goods. The jobs bring an average pay of $16 per hour and draw in businesses such as Wal-Mart, who depend on such facilities. It could draw in as many as 2,000 to 3,000 jobs.

A similar intermodal facility, the Virginia Inland Port near Front Royal, Virginia, brought 6,500 to 7,000 jobs there.

Benefits of the Heartland Corridor are not just local: it would create a quicker route for businesses that need to ship via rail, cutting approximately 200 miles (or 1.5 days of travel time), from Norfolk, Virginia to Chicago, Illinois. It would result in a decrease of truck congestion on highways, as well as air pollution.

--

The Wayne County Economic Development Authority will be preparing a resolution to WVDOH to begin four-lane improvements to 8.1 miles of US 52 from the incomplete WV 75 interchange south of Kenova to Hammonds Bottom, just north of Prichard.

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New lanes, underpass could ease traffic mess: DOH plan would add lanes to I-64 bridge and underpass at Oakwood

By Jim Balow, Charleston Gazette, July 25, 2007

In the plans for Charleston include more traffic lanes and an underpass along Corridor G, and a new slip ramp on the Kanawha River Interstate 64 span at Fort Hill.

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Work on Mason bridge shows progress

Charleston Daily Mail, July 27, 2007

Rendering and photographs

Work is continuing on a new Ohio River span between Mason, West Virginia and Pomeroy, Ohio. The new $60 million, four-lane span will connect Ohio Route 833 on the Ohio side of the river with West Virginia Route 62 on the West Virginia side. Ground was broken in May 2003. It replaces the original span, which has two narrow spans, and was constructed in 1928. Financing is coming from the state of Ohio, who is paying for the entire project. Upon completion, the new bridge will be turned over to the state of West Virginia and the old bridge will be demolished.

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Bridge construction delays on Ohio River lead to higher costs

The Associated Press, July 29, 2007

More information --

Pomeroy-Mason Bridge

Former U.S. Grant Bridge

New U.S. Grant Bridge

High river levels, safety-related redesigns, and missing parts have contributed to increased costs and delays on the state of Ohio's two Ohio River bridge building projects.

Because most of the Ohio River belongs to Kentucky and West Virginia, those two states have been responsible for building most bridges across the river. Ohio is a relative newcomer, having awarded its first contract in 2001 to a central Ohio contractor, C.J. Mahan Construction Co. of suburban Grove City. That project, the 2,155-ft. U.S. Grant Bridge between Portsmouth, Ohio and South Shore, Kentucky, was finished more than two years after its scheduled completion. It was supposed to cost $28.4 million, but the two-lane bridge's final cost was $38 million. There were delays in high river levels and design changes, and it had gotten so bad that at one point, angry Portsmouth merchants demanded that ODOT pay for damages regarding the delay. Their push failed.

The state's second project, a two-lane 1,848-ft. span between Mason, West Virginia and Pomeroy, Ohio, began construction in 2003. Work, however, has been on hold for nine months while the builder awaits an important piece of equipment -- a safety-related redesign of a device that supports the bridge's deck as concrete is poured. Construction was supposed to have been complete last year, but work is now not supposed to be done until November 2008. The original price tag of $45.8 million has ballooned to $60 million. There have not been as many complaints, as the existing span is still open and in service.

In comparison, a larger Ohio River bridge project that is being managed by the West Virginia Department of Transportation is close to being finished -- nearly on budget and on time. The four-lane, 4,009-ft. Blennerhasset Bridge will carry U.S. Route 50 and Corridor D between Belpre, Ohio and Parkersburg, West Virginia. Although it had an original cost of $119.9 million and a completion date of September 2007, it will be completed in late November at $122 million.

While Mehan did not have to pay fines for delays on the U.S. Grant Bridge project, it will face fines under the Pomeroy contract.

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Bridge nearly finished

The Parkersburg News or Sentinel, August 14, 2007

The new Corridor D span over the Ohio River and Blennerhassett Island is on track to be completed in November. The $119.9 million project is the largest, single highway contract in the state's history. The 4,009 ft. span will complete the four-lane upgrade of U.S. 50 from Clarksburg to the Ohio state line. It was one of the original 23 Appalachian corridors selected in 1965 under the Appalachian Development Highway System. The bridge is the final piece, a joint venture from the West Virginia Division of Highways and the Ohio Department of Transportation.

West Virginia funded $16 million towards the project, while Ohio funded $8.4 million. The remainder came from federal sources.

The bridge will feature more than 14,705 tons of structural steel and 16.3 million pounds of plate girder steel. Nearly 1.6 million pounds will be in the continuous girder bridge of three spans that range from 140 to 179 feet. The span will have a 494 ft. approach from Ohio Route 618.

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