Department of Transportation

I-70 Bridges Project Fulton Bridge Replacement Temporary Closure of Wheeling Heritage Trail - Wheeling Creek Trail

The West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways (WVDOH) in coordination with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is proposing to rehabilitate or replace 26 bridges along I-70 in West Virginia and Ohio as part of the I-70 Bridges Project (State Project No. S335-70-0.01 00, Federal Project No. NFA-2317(008).  As part of the I-70 Bridges Project, the two structurally deficient eastbound (EB) and westbound (WB) I-70 Fulton Bridges will be replaced.  The Fulton Bridges are located over Wheeling Creek and adjacent to the Wheeling Heritage Trail – Wheeling Creek Trail (Trail), a shared-use path near the Fulton neighborhood.  Temporary closure of the Trail near the Fulton Bridges will be required to reconstruct the EB and WB I-70 Fulton Bridges.  Due to the proposed transportation use of this property, Section 4(f) regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act of 1966 apply to the project.  Section 4(f) affords protection to publicly-owned recreation areas (resources) including city, state, and national parks, wildlife refuges and management areas and historic sites. The Trail has been identified as a Section 4(f) resource.  The WVDOH, in coordination with the FHWA, is proposing a de minimis impact of the Trail, a Section 4(f) resource, due to the proposed temporary closure of the Trail at the Fulton Bridge location.  The WVDOH welcomes your comments regarding  the effects of this project on the projected activities, features, and attributes of the Trail.

Due to safety concerns during the construction of the Fulton Bridges, a portion of the Trail will be temporarily closed from the Hempfield Tunnel, eastward 0.5 miles to a location near Rock Point Road.  The Fulton Bridges work is anticipated to take approximately two years within the three year I-70 Bridges Project corridor construction schedule.  The following is a description of the construction phasing and how it will affect the Trail:

The WB I-70 Fulton Bridge will be constructed first and is expected to take approximately 11 months of the anticipated three year I-70 Bridges Project corridor construction schedule. The EB I-70 Fulton Bridge will be constructed second and is expected to take approximately 15 months of the anticipated three year I-70 Bridges Project corridor construction schedule.
At the start of construction, the Trail will be closed for 1 month to allow for the movement of construction equipment to the Bridge and the preparation of the construction site for the demolition and erection of the WB I-70 Fulton Bridge.  At this time the site will be prepared for the installation of a temporary bridge structure across Wheeling Creek that will allow for the movement of heavy equipment.

After the 1 month closure period, the Trail will be closed intermittently to allow for the movement of equipment, materials, and staff to the site as needed.  It is anticipated that the trail will be open most of the time, while the work is performed underneath the bridge. During temporary closures, a flagging operation, signage, or other means of closure notification will be utilized during the work day to stop trail users while material and equipment is being moved.  These temporary closures will be coordinated with the City of Wheeling and a 14-day advance notice of closures will be published. Overall, during the approximate 11-month WB I-70 Bridge construction period, the Trail will experience short term stoppages and temporary closures but will remain open most of the time.

The Trail will be closed for approximately 9 months during the demolition and construction of the proposed EB I-70 Bridge.  The reason for this closure is to ensure the safety of those in the area due to the proximity of the Trail to the EB I-70 Bridge work zone.

After the 9 month closure period, the Trail will be closed intermittently to allow for the movement of equipment, materials, and staff to the site as needed.  It is anticipated that the trail will be open most of the time, while the work is performed underneath the bridge. During temporary closures, a flagging operation, signage, or other means of closure notification will be utilized during the work day to stop trail users while material and equipment are being moved.  These temporary closures will be coordinated with the City of Wheeling and a 14-day advance notice of closures will be published. Overall, during the approximate 15 month EB I-70 Bridge construction period, the Trail will experience short term stoppages and temporary closures but will remain open most of the time.

After each closure the Trail will be inspected, and the Trail surface will be prepared with a hard surface of crushed aggregate suitable for bicycle use.  The Trail will be open during the Memorial Day Holiday period from the Thursday before Memorial Day to Memorial Day (Monday). 

The Trail will be reconstructed in kind at its exact location with similar construction materials. The disturbed land surrounding the trail will be fully restored once the construction of the EB and WB I-70 Fulton Bridges is complete.  WVDOH will coordinate with the City of Wheeling to inform the public of the Trail closures during this restoration work.  

As part of the design process, the design team evaluated several options when determining the Project’s constructability and access needs that did not encroach upon Trail property.  Other access options studied and eliminated included: access from the roadway approaching the bridges (I-70), access utilizing a causeway across Wheeling Creek, and access from Peninsula Street.  These options were eliminated due to safety concerns associated with the steep gradient at the bridge abutments, high instream impacts to Wheeling Creek, and high right-of-way acquisition from a private owner with the need to perform additional road upgrades with land clearing activities. 

To minimize temporary use impacts to the Trail, several options were evaluated. The use of a barrier to separate Trail traffic from construction traffic along an access road adjacent to the Trail was evaluated.  However, this option was eliminated due to the lack of available space along the length of the Trail.  The Trail is located on a narrow flat (old railroad bed) with steep slopes on either side which drops steadily to Wheeling Creek along the length of the Trail.  This does not allow for the minimum width required to build a temporary construction access road while allowing for the minimum width required for two-way Trail traffic with a suitable barrier. Therefore, the utilization of a temporary construction access road with a barrier was eliminated as a viable option. 

The use of overhead protection at the Trail adjacent to the construction site was evaluated as a means to allow for the Trail to remain open during construction activities.  It was determined due to the type of work required during overhead activities such as dismantling the existing structure, erecting beams, placing deck forms, use and movement of heavy equipment, or any other construction related activity, that overhead Trail protection would not sufficiently protect any Trail users from potential dangers.  Therefore, this option was eliminated as a viable option during construction activities near the Trail.

Another option evaluated, was the utilization of a temporary bridge across Wheeling Creek as supplemental construction access.  It was determined that a temporary bridge could be utilized for the movement of heavy equipment and construction materials to the Fulton Bridges construction site.  With the addition of the temporary bridge, the originally proposed 15 month closure was reduced to 9 months; thereby, minimizing the temporary use of the Trail.  

Based on the avoidance and minimization of impacts to the Trail as described above, the WVDOH, in coordination with the FHWA, is proposing a de minimis impact use regarding Section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act (1966).  WVDOH welcomes your comments on the effects of this project on the projected activities, features, and attributes of the Wheeling Heritage Trail – Wheeling Creek Trail.

Comment

The comment period for this project ended on Friday, July 5, 2019.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation will, upon request, provide reasonable accommodations including auxiliary aids and services necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in our services, programs and activities. Please contact us at (304) 558-3931. Persons with hearing or speech impairments can reach all state agencies by calling (800) 982-8772 (voice to TDD) or (800) 982-8771 (TDD to voice), toll free.