By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer

 

By RONDA GREGORY

News & Journal Staff Writer

Kaboom!    The 85-year-old bridge off of Pike Street in Shinnston finally went down at approximately 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 24.  The bridge, at the north end of town, conveyed U.S. Route 19 across the West Fork River.  In early September, destruction of the bridge had already begun with removal of its railings and concrete deck.

According to West Virginia Division of Highways District 4 Construction Engineer Jason Nelson, the final phase of the demolition went smoothly.

“Everything went exactly according to plan,” he said.  “It was over in a second.”

Nelson said they used an imploding method that involves embedding very small explosive charges into the two main river spans that they then detonate.

“By making those cuts, it makes the structure fail, causing the spans to fall off their support piers,” he said.

Nelson said approximately 30 people witnessed the demolition, orchestrated by Triton Construction of Nitro.

“Contractor personnel, a few DOH personnel and some local city representatives were there,” he said.

DOH District 4 Bridge Engineer Randy Harris said the former bridge needed replaced because of old-age deterioration and a need to increase weight allowances to accommodate any industry transport vehicles traveling the route through Shinnston.   The old structure, which was 27 feet wide and 746 feet long, had low weight restrictions.

“It’s structural analysis was produced at a low rating,” he said.
Harris added that a bridge allowing for at least 80 thousand pounds of legal loading (or more, with a permit) was needed.

“With the old bridge, we could not do that,” he said.

A new bridge, the Veterans Memorial Bridge, is already in place and opened to traffic August 29.

Triton was also the contractor for this new construction.

The $6-million new bridge, located about 300 feet downstream of the old structure, runs the same course as the old – carrying U.S. Route 19 across the river, Nelson said.  But the new bridge has a less severe angle of approach at both ends than the old one did, creating a safer travel experience for the approximately 8,500 motorists crossing it daily.

“It crosses the river at a more gentle angle of approach, rather than the almost-90-degree angle of the old bridge,” Nelson said. “That makes for more ease and safety of traffic flow on and off the bridge – especially for larger vehicles.”

At 58 feet wide and 571 feet long, the new bridge has two 14-foot-wide travel lanes and two 5-foot-wide sidewalks.

Nelson said the last item to complete wrap up of the demolition is clean-up, which will be finished soon.

“The debris will be removed by cutting it into more manageable-sized pieces with large metal shears and torches, lifted out by crane, loaded onto trucks and taken to a scrap yard,” he said.

Shinnston Assistant City Manager Travis Blosser said the town is glad to see this vital infrastructure improvement effort come to a close.  “We’re happy this project is completed, and we’re happy with the new traffic pattern,” he concluded.

 

(PHOTO CUTLINE)    Downed bridge off Pike Street in Shinnston after demolition Friday, Oct. 24.  View is from the east side of the West Fork River, looking west.   Photo submitted by West Virginia Division of Highways, District 4.
(PHOTO CUTLINE)
Downed bridge off Pike Street in Shinnston after demolition Friday, Oct. 24. View is from the east side of the West Fork River, looking west. Photo submitted by West Virginia Division of Highways, District 4.