State watches an “engineering marvel” unfold

WELLSBURG, W.Va. — Many looked on with fascination Monday as a couple of steel nerved barge captains maneuvered their most unusual load ever into the Ohio River for a short trip downstream.

The new Wellsburg Bridge connecting Brooke County, West Virginia’s Route 2 and Brilliant, Ohio’s Route 7 will be lifted into place by Tuesday morning after it was transported to the site from where it was fabricated over the past year.

“A remarkable feat going on even as we talk. They floated it downstream, pivoted and are in the process of jacking it up,” said West Virginia Division of Highways Engineer Jimmy Wriston.

The project was so ambitious, the Division of Highways live streamed the entire trip which kept many glued to their phone or computer during the day. The bridge was assembled in place on the West Virginia shore. It’s a project under Governor Jim Justice’s Roads to Prosperity plan.

Flatiron Construction of Colorado is moving bridge into place this week and will attach it to pre-built piers on either side of the Ohio River.

“It’s another Ohio River crossing and gives you a little redundancy,” said Wriston. “A lot of our bridges are aging and in need of some work. This gives us a vital place to cross over so we can enjoy more, and more interstate commerce between us and the rest of the country.”

The state awarded Flatiron Construction, a national construction company headquartered in Colorado, a $131 million bid for the project in 2016. Crews built the tied-arch bridge entirely offsite. Piers are already constructed and the bridge will be raised to the necessary height on Tuesday then pushed upstream and lowered onto those piers.

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