CHARLES TOWN, W.Va.—Ten years after construction was halted by lawsuits, the new four-lane route for W.Va. 9 from U.S. 340 near Charles Town to the Virginia state line is slated to open Nov. 1.
J. Lee Thorne, District 5 engineer/manager for the West Virginia Division of Highways, said last week that contractors had been working to finish the project by Tuesday, but officials determined more time was needed to finish the segment.
The project included construction of a four-lane bridge about 1,650 feet long that crosses over the Shenandoah River about 200 feet above the water.
The substructure for the bridge consists of two abutments and four piers, using 560,000 pounds of reinforcing steel, 7,700 cubic yards of concrete and 43,000 square feet of formwork, Pittsburgh-based Trumbull Corp. said on its website about the $39.9 million bridge project.
East of the bridge, the new W.Va. 9 eventually narrows to two lanes to tie into Va. 9 at the Loudoun County, Va., line, and it continues as a two-lane road until connecting to Va. 7, which is four lanes.
Trumbull Corp. and HDR Engineering were awarded the contract for the project in January 2010.
Construction on the approximately five-mile section of W.Va. 9 was halted in 2002 after several groups and individuals filed lawsuits opposing the project.
Opponents had claimed in federal court that highway officials did not obtain a necessary permit to build a bridge over the Shenandoah River, and that the government failed to examine ways the existing two-lane road could be made safer and affect fewer historic properties.
The lawsuits did not delay construction of the new four-lane divided highway from the Charles Town Bypass to Martinsburg, W.Va., which opened in 2010.
The heavily traveled two-lane road between the Virginia state line and Berkeley Springs in Morgan County, W.Va., was built as a rural collector road around 1930, state officials said.
Highway officials had cited results of studies that indicated that the number of accidents along the old route for W.Va. 9 was 32 percent higher than the statewide average for similar roads, and fatalities along the roadway were 76 percent higher than the state’s average.
I-81 Exit 5 closure
The DOH announced Friday that Exit 5 of southbound Interstate 81 in Berkeley County will be closed Monday and Tuesday from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. for exit repairs.
Southbound I-81 still will be open, and the northbound lanes will not be affected. Traffic will be reduced to one lane on W.Va. 51 at Exit 5 and will be under the direction of flaggers, the DOH said in a news release.
Work is anticipated to be completed Tuesday morning, weather permitting, DOH officials said.