WHEELING, W.Va. — Beginning on Tuesday, the historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic and may remain that way for more than a year.
State Secretary of Transportation Byrd White told the Wheeling News-Register on Friday that the bridge could be closed for at least a year, citing safety concerns.
The bridge reopened in August after being closed for six weeks due to damage from an overweight charter bus traveling on it.
State Division of Highways crews installed new lower barriers to keep oversized vehicles off the bridge.The barriers on the bridge are now 7 feet, 6 inches which are controlled by hard constraints and there was a 2-ton, 4,000-pound, weight limit and a law to maintain a 50’ minimum distance between vehicles.
The driver of the Pennsylvania-based Lenzner Tour and Travel/Coach USA bus was cited in the June 29 incident for being an overweight vehicle and failure to maintain a traffic control device after violating the two-ton weight limit.
Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott had previously told MetroNews the sway cables were damaged on the Island side of the bridge in the incident and one or two more overweight buses on the bridge in its condition could lead to a “catastrophic result.”
The bridge, which turns 170 years old this year and connects downtown Wheeling to Wheeling Island, was already scheduled to have a complete rehabilitation by the DOH in 2020 or early 2021. White told the Intelligencer, once the rehab project is finished, the DOH will reevaluate the closure.
For now, pedestrians and bicyclists will be permitted to use the bridge.