Gov. Jim Justice and the West Virginia Division of Highways have announced that a project to repair and rehabilitate the historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge at Wheeling, West Virginia, has been awarded.
Advantage Steel & Construction was awarded a contract for $17,907,147 to make necessary repairs to the historic bridge’s superstructure and substructure, to replace any damaged suspension cables, to renovate lighting, and to clean and paint the span.
“I’m excited that this incredibly important project to rehabilitate the Wheeling Suspension Bridge is now in the works,” the governor said.
“This bridge is a landmark piece of our state’s history, and I am fully committed to doing all we can to preserve it for generations to come. Through our work on this project, we will restore the bridge back to its historic beauty so it can continue to connect the great community of Wheeling to the world for generations to come.
“As I’ve said many times, I truly believe that Wheeling is an area full of so much potential it’s unbelievable,” Justice added.
“I will continue to do everything in my power to help draw people in to experience all the goodness that Wheeling and the entire northern panhandle has to offer.”
The bridge has been closed to vehicles since September 2019, after drivers repeatedly ignored DOH weight restrictions and warnings on the structure.
The 1,300-foot span connects the city of Wheeling with Wheeling Island and opened in 1849. It was originally part of the National Road, the first major improved highway in the United States that ran from Maryland to Illinois. It was the main passageway to the West and was the largest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its construction.
The bridge had been damaged early in 2019 after a tour bus that far exceeded the posted two-ton weight limit tried to cross, only to get stuck under a barrier. Contractors will repair and renovate the bridge in hopes of repairing it to the point where it can be reopened to motorists.
“This bridge is an icon,” Jimmy Wriston, Deputy Commissioner of Highways, said of the mission.
“Being able to preserve that structure is important, not only to the city of Wheeling but to the state as a whole.”
Contractors won’t know until they begin work on the bridge whether it is damaged too badly to safely reopen to vehicles.
In December 2020, the W.Va. DOH rejected a single bid on the project that was far more than the DOH engineering estimate.