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Update: Bridge move now set for Wednesday

BIG MOVE EYED — Officials with the West Virginia Department of Transportation have announced plans to move the 830-foot-long main span of the new Ohio River bridge Wednesday morning. Built in a temporary assembly yard behind the Smith Oil gas station south of Wellsburg, the main span is slated to be transported down river to its future location by four barges. -- Warren Scott

WELLSBURG — Plans to transport the new 830-foot-long main span of the new Ohio River bridge have been rescheduled by a day, according to an announcement by the state Department of Transportation this morning.

The tied-arch span will now be moved by barge beginning Wednesdy morning, and lifted onto its piers early April 22.

State officials have stressed weather will be a major influence on plans to transport the main span down river on four barges about a mile south of Wellsburg, where large hydraulic cranes will be used to lift it 80 feet into the air and onto its piers.

A press release Wednesday from the department states, “Due to the highly sensitive nature of the actions being performed during this operation, execution will not be possible if river and wind conditions are not favorable.”

“Therefore, there is a real possibility the event will be delayed to the middle or end of the week of April 19. We will be closely monitoring the weather conditions throughout this week and will promptly communicate any updates and/or date changes as they arise.”

State highway officials earlier reported that with the cooperation of the Coast Guard, the affected area of the river will be closed to traffic during the operations.

It’s not clear if there are still plans to maintain traffic on nearby state Route 2 using one lane regulated by flaggers.

Officials now have set 8:30 a.m. Wednesday as the tentative start date for the main span’s move, a process expected to continue into the afternoon.

Plans call for crews to proceed in lifting the main span at about 3:30 a.m. April 22, with the entire process not expected to be completed until the late afternoon.

The work is part of a $131 million project undertaken by the Flatiron Corp. of Broomfield, Colo., and slated for completion in fall 2022.

Once the main span is in place, crews will set about building the span’s 60-foot-wide deck as well as proceeding with links to state Route 2 in West Virgina and the intersection of Third and Clever streets in Brilliant, from which vehicles may access state Route 7.

Studies commissioned by the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission cited the advancing age of the Market Street Bridge and Fort Steuben Bridge, the latter since demolished, and weight restrictions on the former bridge as the need for a new Ohio River crossing to support interstate traffic between Jefferson and Brooke counties.

Local officials and other community members overseeing the studies also suggested it will boost economic development at the two counties’ ends while providing another transportation artery in the event state Routes 2 or 7 are blocked by rock slides, a recurring problem in those two areas.

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