NITRO, W.Va. — Construction crews are moving along with work to widen Interstate 64 from Nitro to the U.S. Route 35 interchange. The project will eventually make the highway six lanes from Charleston to Teays Valley and will construct a new interstate bridge across the Kanawha River at Nitro.
On the west side of the river there is a lot of material which needs to be moved and will require periodic blasting. This week the first of the shots needed to reduce the large hillside and rocky obstacles were set off. Jason Hamilton, Area Construction Engineer for District 1 of the West Virginia Division of Highways, said the blasts will be carefully controlled with each shot.
“I don’t know how many sequences they expect to do, but I assume they will take small bites,” Hamilton said.
Each of those “small bites” will require a 10 to 15 minute traffic headache for motorists on Interstate 64.
A rolling roadblock will start ten minutes before each blast time with State Police and construction safety vehicles getting on the interstate at Teays Valley and Cross Lanes. They’ll start pacing traffic and slowing down and keep traffic behind them to eventually bring the entire interstate to a halt.
“They’ll pace that traffic and give time for everything to clear out, let the shot happen, and then give the contractor time to verify everything went off, everything is clear, and if anything landed in the road they can respond to that,” said Hamilton.
The schedule calls for a number of shots at several different locations along the work area to make way for not only the new bridge over the river, but new overpasses and exits as well. The blasting work is expected to last through August.
“I think it was being interpreted that it will be every day guaranteed, but it’s not. It will be a day here and there and it’s all based on what they can get accomplished,” said Hamilton.