PARKERSBURG -A number of bridges in Wood County have been determined to be structurally deficient and a number are slated to have repairs done as soon as possible.
Recently released federal highway data show that nearly 1,000 bridges in West Virginia are structurally deficient with 14 in Wood County.
Those bridges include one on Waverly Road (which officials said recent repairs should remove the "structurally deficient" rating,) a bridge at Pond Creek along West Virginia 68, a bridge at Race Track along W.Va. 68, a bridge at Hogland along Route 2/22 (which is slated to be replaced this year), a bridge at Walker Culvert (which is slated to be replaced in 2014), the Barnett Bridge along W.Va. 14 (which is now bypassed by the new South Mineral Wells Bridge,) a bridge along Big Run, a bridge along Route 15/5 at Winding Heights (major repairs are scheduled for 2017), a bridge at Route 47/1 at Dry Run, along W.Va. 68 at South Fork Lee Creek (where routine deck repairs are slated to begin soon), a bridge along Route 25/13 at Road Fork (which is scheduled to be replaced in 2015), a bridge along Route 47/42 at the Kanawha Church Slab, a bridge along 28th Street in Vienna (which is scheduled to be replaced in 2014) and a bridge along 27th Street in Vienna.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
A bridge in Vienna along 27th Street is one of 14 bridges in Wood County listed by highway officials as being “structurally deficient.” The bridge has been inspected and is safe for traffic, but some kind of repair work will need to be done.
Officials with the West Virginia Department of Transportation point out the federal ratings don't mean the state's bridges are unsafe. The ratings, which go from 0-100 on a sufficiency scale, serve as a guideline to prioritize the use of federal funds.
Bridges that score below 80 are eligible for renovation or rehabilitation. A score below 50 makes a bridge eligible for federal replacement.
According to federal highway data available through nationalbridges.com, the local bridges are rated as 60.1 for the one at Pond Creek along W.Va. 68, 23.3 for the one at Race Track along W.Va. 68, 70.1 for the one at Big Run, 27.3 for the one at Route 15/5 at Winding Heights, 51.8 for the one at at Route 47/1 at Dry Run, 67.1 for the one along W.Va. 68 at South Fork Lee Creek, 47.0 for the one along Route 25/13 at Road Fork, 31.0 for the one along Route 47/42 at the Kanawha Church Slab, 32.4 for the one along 28th Street in Vienna and 61.5 for the one along 27th Street in Vienna.
"Let me just say that 'structurally deficient' does not mean unsafe bridges," said Cliff Essig, District 3 bridge engineer for the West Virginia Division of Highways. "It does usually mean that parts of the bridge, that are significant load carrying members, are in poor condition. "All of the bridges on this list are older and nearing the end of their service life. They are routinely inspected in order to make sure they are safe."
According to a 2011 report, "The Fix We're In For: The State of West Virginia's Bridges," done by Transportation For America, out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, West Virginia ranks eighth nationally in terms of the overall condition of the state's bridges with 1 being the worst and 51 being the best.
"...one out of every six bridges that motorists in West Virginia cross each day are likely to be deteriorating to some degree; and 16.7 percent of bridges statewide are rated 'structurally deficient,' according to government standards, compared to 11.5 percent nationwide," the report stated.
Officials with Transporation For America said a new report is expected to be released sometime this month.
The Barnett Bridge near Mineral Wells was at one time rated among the worst bridges in West Virginia. The bridge has been bypassed with the construction of the the new South Mineral Wells Bridge. Brent Walker, spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Transportation, said plans remain for the bridge to stay in place as it is an access route for a number of businesses and people in that area, but its daily traffic has been reduced significantly.
Officials may determine what they will do with the structure- repair it, reduce the weight limit or close it - with its next inspection, Walker said adding the bridge is regularly inspected and still considered safe for traffic.
Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp said the city is in the process of getting an engineering firm to do the work on the bridge along 28th Street.
"We need that bridge to be fully operational," Rapp said.
The bridge has a 15-ton weight limit where there were no restrictions before.
"It is safe," the mayor said. "It is not going to fall in.
"We want to bring it back fully."
City officials are estimating it will cost around $500,000 to repair the bridge, which the city is funding through a surplus in its budget.
Rapp hopes work will begin next spring and be completed by the fall of 2014.
Essig said the highway department eventually wants to do work on all the structurally deficient bridges.
"The WVDOH's long-term goal is either to repair or replace all the structurally deficient bridges, but the resources to do this are not nearly enough to do them all at once," he said. "And as these structurally deficient bridges are repaired or replaced others will likely fill their place, as all bridges continue to age."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.