Gov. Jim Justice and leaders from the West Virginia Department of Transportation announced today that the contract for work upgrading more than two dozen bridges along the Wheeling corridor of Interstate 70 has been awarded to Swank Construction Company.
The project is one of the most significant of Gov. Justice’s Roads to Prosperity program.
“At the end of the day, there’s no way in the world I could be any happier; our state’s moving,” Gov. Justice said. “I can’t say this enough times; we’re on it. And our people with Highways are on it.”
The Governor made the announcement during a public event at Heritage Port Park in Wheeling, which overlooks the Fort Henry Bridge crossing the Ohio River; one of 26 total bridges in the greater Wheeling/Ohio County area set to receive work as part of the project.
Video and pictures of the event are available for media download here
The scope of work for the project includes rehabilitation work on 25 bridges along this section of I-70.
The project also calls for the replacement of the Fulton Bridge, which is located just to the east of the Wheeling Tunnel.
The goal of the project is to enhance safety on the many bridges in the area by fine-tuning their structural integrity, while also improving access for pedestrians to travel across the bridges on foot.
“Our bridges got in this shape over decades of neglect, decades of being 50th,” Gov. Justice said. “In all honesty, that’s the problem; when you don’t have any money, you can’t fix anything.”
Swank Construction Company’s winning bid for the project came in at $214.65 million.
The same project originally went out for bid last year. But the initial low-bid of $275.16 million came back much higher than expected.
“So, we didn’t accept that 275-million-dollar bid,” Gov. Justice said. “We went back to the drawing board and we tweaked and we worked at it as diligently as we possibly could, as we have on other bids.”
The Governor’s decision to reject the bids and re-work the contract resulted in a cost savings of more than $60 million.
“There were probably people in this area who thought, ‘Well, seeing as how the bids came in so high and they rejected the bid, our bridges are never gonna be fixed.’ And we absolutely knew everything to the contrary of that,” Gov. Justice said. “Every single project, we can now say without any question whatsoever, they’re all gonna be done.”
Initial work on the project is scheduled to begin this year. With the majority of the first phase of work set to take place underneath the structures, traffic is not expected to be affected in 2019.
However, once work on top of the bridges begins in 2020, motorists will begin to experience multiple construction zones and possible lane changes in the area, depending on the traffic conditions of each bridge.
Additionally, the full replacement of the Fulton Bridge will eventually require a shutdown of I-70 in that area, with I-470 anticipated to be used as the primary detour.
The entire I-70 Bridge Project is expected to require at least 3 years to complete.
With this contract now awarded, Gov. Justice is looking forward to seeing work get off the ground in Wheeling, as well as with other Roads to Prosperity projects across West Virginia.
“As soon as we get this going, we want to get something else going. We don’t want to sit and lean on our laurels,” Gov. Justice said. “There’s still lots and lots to do and there’s still lots and lots of people to help.”