Ok everyone, it's that time again for me to give you the latest Corridor-H updates. I do appologize on not having an update since July/August, some how life has seemed to get really busy along with my computer business here. While I may not have been able to get time to post recently I have kept the members of DCSki.com in my mind while I have been out and about in this area documenting Corridor-H changes and updates.
A good bit has changed with Corridor-H since my last update. Since then there was a bridge collapse scare back last month which had the entire Wardensville community on edge. Overall though progress has slowed to a crawl with construction on this end and even delaying opening of this section for upwards of another year. I have heard official estimates of an opening date of July 2005, or as late as Winter 2005. Based on what I have seen, this are not unreasonable dates. Unfortunately everything I"m going to cover impacts the DCSki.com readers in a negative way overall for the immediate future as none of us will be able to use the stretch of highway for at least another year at the earliest. Baker to McCauley
- This piece hass been nearly finished for months now, but construction crews have been going even slower in the last few months. Most of you all may or may not know that there are actually 4 different bridges at Baker for Corridor-H. The two concrete bridges that cross SR 259/55, and the two steel-concrete bridges that cross Lost River which are located behind the EA Hawse Health Center & Mathias-Baker Fire/Rescue. For some time now the two bridge that cross the river have been completed and even have the steel guardrail installed on top of the concrete sidewall barriers.
Just within the last two weeks crews have paved the new entrance/exit ramps heading east along with paving the short stretches between the two bridges. Minor landscaping work is still ongoing in this general area with some dirt moving to accompany the landscaping. My largest complaint is that for 2 months now steel guardrailing has been partially installed on the concrete bridges across the road, but that has been in. I've driven by there numerous times to see a crew of like 5 guys standing and talking not even attempting to work. This section is almost ready for traffic if the rest of the sections were done. It's my best guess that WVDOT will simply rope off this area until the other sections are completed.
Now the mile or so uphill graded stretch from Baker to McCauley has been finished for sometime now. I think this area was paved early in the spring with wooden rustic looking guardrails having been installed this past summer. All landscaping has been done in this area and the only thing left is for painting of the lines which doesn't occur until days before grand opening, and the installation of highway signs. McCauley Bridges
- As most of you know, I wrote a breif and sudden post on here one day last month mentioning the closure of SR 259/55 through this construction site. Unfortunately accurate information wasn't spread through the rumor mill and I was without a vehicle that day to actually drive there and get the accurate information I needed. As always the good ole rumor mill churned out descriptions that the bridges had fully collapsed etc which obviously wasn't correct.
After talking with people and cross referencing information in the weekly Moorefield Examiner a week later, the story is that there was an immenent threat of danger which could have lead to a possible partial bridge collapse. What happened is that this bridge is on such a massive curve that when cranes were lifting the 12' high steel girders into place, engineers noticed more twisting than usual in the girders. Since only two, of the four girders needed, are lifted into place at a time, engineers were afraid that this twisting in the beams could possibly cause them to slip off the piers and fall to the ground some 200' below. Of which if that happened due to the massive size of these girders, could have possibly caused a collapse of the bridge if that were to happen.
Due to the emminent danger, engineers closed the highway underneat to only police, fire, and rescue traffic only. Standard 2 axle traffic and school busses was routed over a back mountain road for two days while delivery trucks, 18 wheelers, and other large traffic was routed via 220 out of Moorefield to Augusta onto Rt 50 east into Winchester, VA. While the road has now opened again less than three days after the closure, engineers and construction crews remain at the McCauley site on a 24/7 basis.
Now where does that leave construction status you ask? More than half of the 12 foot tall girders have been raised into position extending over halfway across that little valley area there at McCauley. Crews begain installing girders on the east bound side of the highway and proceeding to attach more girders and extending the reach of the beams towards the Baker side. Construction was moving along fairly fast until the latest incident happened and installing the girders has slowed to a crawl.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes for construction to finish up on these bridges. Crews have went into winter mode meaning earth moving isn't happening, concrete pouring isn't happening on extremely cold days, and most crew members aren't working. I'm not sure if the cold weather is having any affect on installing girders, but if it does, it could be until March before we see the girder installations finished. I doubt it will take that long, but you never know. My own personal estimation is that we will see the girders finished up sometime after Christmas. Crews will then start installing the steel rebar concrete re-enforcement work. Since this is such a massive bridge project that covers a fairly wide distance, the steel rebar work could take upwards of a month or two. Meaning if the girders are finished up in late-January, it would be about late-Feb to late-March before concrete would be poured for the decking. This could mean those bridges wouldn't be finished at the earliest until August 2005, which is on par with dates I've heard so far.
Some enviornmentalists may find this a bit disturbing, but in order to accompany room for four massive cranes to lift such large beans to such a high elevation, Lost River was dammed up to make room for two cranes to actually sit on top of the river. What crews did was lay down 5 massive pipes 20' in diameter into the river to create drainage flow for the river. Then on top of these they dumped numerous loads of rock, gravel, and dirt to create an access road and parking area for two cranes. While this doesn't nessecarily dam up or back up the river, it did create that affect after a hard rain last month. Water was seen backing up around this fill area and actually submerged a few feet of the cranes.
As you will see in pictures posted later this evening, not much work has been accomplished since these pictures. Actually only 4 more girders have been installed and thats it. All of the concrete work for the piers HAS been completed for well over a month now. The one time detour at McCauley has been replaced and traffic is now flowing naturally again on the old piece of highway since the cranes have been moved. McCauley to Saurkraut Run Bridges
- This 3 mile stretch of highway is completely finished, only missing the painted lines and green highway signs. For those of you who are driving to TL or CV and have a little bit of extra time on your hands on the weekends you can actually drive this section down to the McCauley Bridges, turn around and come back. To do this, you turn onto the new Pine Ridge road entrance and make a left rather than following the construction barrels. If you do this on the weekend during the day when workers aren't there you will get an AWESOME view of the area.
If you are lucky, you may see me biking up and down that hill on Sunday afternoons so feel free to pull up along side and introduce yourself as a DCSki.com member!
To date the Saurkraut Run Bridges are fully complete with the final layer of pavement having been installed upto the bridges making them ready for speedy traffic. Guardrails have been installed upto the bridges at the time of this writing and the steel guardrail has also been added to the top of the side barriers on the bridges. There is 1% landscaping left if there is anything to do at all. Lost River Sinks Bridges
- These two bridges are at the halfway point of being completed. All of the concrete piers have been finished for some time and all of the 8-10' girders have been installed for well over three months. When I took pictures back in the middle of September, crews were installing the metal bottoms between the girders. New WV law allows construction crews to use non-removable metal bottoms to bridges which helps speed up the time it takes to construct a bridge.
Previously when bridges were built, crews could only use heavy duty plyboard to fill the gaps between the beams. From there the rebar was installed, concrete poured and finally once the deck of the bridge was complete, crews then would have had to go under the bridge and remove the plyboard molding. Next time you are under a bridge and if you look directly up and see a concrete deck resting on a bridge, then you know this method was used. But if you look up and see ripped metal then the new method was used. That is something informational for you all to keep.
With the fact that construction crews are now in winter mode, I don't suspect much if any concrete will be poured for the Lost River sinks bridges until after cold weather breaks or if by some unfortunate chance this winter remains unseasonably warm. The steel rebar is being installed as we speak and I'm unsure how much of that is finished yet, but if crews are working fast on these two bridges as they seem to be, we could see concrete poured as early as next month. Again this all depends on temperature and weather. In my own personal opinion I would expect these bridges to be finished by around May 2005 based on the speed of work so far. Lost River Sinks Bridges to Wardensville Exit
- Now this is where things get interesting. For the most part, the highway is finished from the LRS bridges for over 2 miles east until just past the Squirrel Gap Road intersection. A few hundred yards past this intersection, the pavement stops and leads into ungraded dirt. The For about a quarter mile onward only the base dirt has been put in place molding a very basic direction of where the road will go. This then leads into a mound of soil placed beside the still closed Trout Run Cut-Off road. A very basic exit has been cut out of the hill in what appears to be a 180* turn/exit which would stop at Trout Run Cut-Off and then lead into the current SR 259/55.
This might be a bit upsetting to many of you, and is very upsetting to me, but crews have not finalized design plans on how to build this intersection. For over a month now, a letter has been posted in the post office outlining a plans that a public meeting will be held Dec. 18 at the Wardensville town hall to discuss how construction crews should proceed with this project. I've heard rumors two bridges will be built across the Trout Run Cut-Off Road, or there will be a tunnel made instead. No one seems to know for sure yet. In the mean time, crews have entered winter mode and all construction has ceased on this site. Only work that has been done is that crews spread hay-grass seed to seed down the area for winter.
But for the rest of the stretch from the LRS bridges, roadwork is finished. Paving has been finished since August with guardrails having been installed shortly afterwards. Squirrel Gap road has been modified to be an interchange with a hidden scenic overlook of Wardensville up on the hill behind Corridor-H. Moorefield to Foreman
- YES, This section is fully underway!! Many of you have seen the construction work at the East Moorefield exit ramps for several months now. While this has been indicitive of the coming progress for this new section of highway, I have better news AND PICTURES. The construction for this has lead to downtown Moorefield. Just last week when I stopped at McDonalds along side 220 getting lunch before court... I happened to look up towards SR 55 where I saw some dust coming up. Only to a whopping surprise to see construction reaching mainstreet Moorefield. It appears that Corridor-H will have a fairly wide sweeping area when it crosses US-220.
By my best estimation, the eastbound entrance ramp will be located immediately beside McDonalds and the AquaJet carwash location. There will be quite some distance between this entrance ramp and the actual highway as it appears that the highway itself will intersect US-220 immediately to the south of the South Branch Inn/Ponderosa restraunt. Currently all construction is located on the east side of US-220 extending back upto the current ending of Corridor-H. Although at the time of this writing there were numerous backhoes, and other heavy machinery on the west side of the road down near the South Branch River.
Keep in mind, there have been rumors that there will be a bridge that spans about 1 mile in length across this entire valley due to how prone this area is to flooding. I can't comment anymore on thisbecause I simply don't know anything else. I am waiting to hear back from WVDOT engineers to see if I can get copies of plans and or their comments on how this will play out.In conclusion...
there are some good things and bad things going on right now. Obviously the bad things are that the McCauley and Lost River Sinks bridges are severely behind schedule delaying the opening the road even further. Also the Wardensville interchange isn't even finalized yet on how they want to proceed with this... and if this takes a long while to go through the red-tape proceedings, it could be spring before crews even start on this again. Overall it doesn't appear we will have a functioning Wardensville-Moorefield highway for at least another year at the earliest. Sorry guys/gals, you all are going to have to wait till next year to get a ride on this to TL and CV.
The good news is that the Moorefield construction is fully underway and going ahead full steam. I am anxious to find out more about this to pass along to everyone so for now it's a wait and see. I will say that once the Moorefield to Foreman section is completed, this will present a new challege to CV drivers. Most of you all don't know, but Foreman is a tiny town located due north of Petersburg... not far from Rt 42.
So when this section is finished, travelers will get on at Wardensville, drive 70mph (make it 65 folks, Hardy County sheriff's deputy's and troopers are monitoring this road HEAVILY as of late), go past Baker, go past two Moorefield Exits, cross the South Branch River, and exit at Foreman. Unfortunately this will put traffic on a tiny county road 5 and traffic will have to go about 3-4 miles west where they will then get back on Rt 42. The suggested route then is to travel north on 42 and goto CV/TL that way. It would actually be longer if travelers backtracked south on 42 to Petersburg and then up via Seneca Rocks.
I hope this has been helpful to everyone. I will have hundreds of documented pics on my special website I'm making here very soon.