Autumn Corridor-H Updates
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November 15, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
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 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 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 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.

November 16, 2004
Member since 12/11/2003 🔗
127 posts
Great update and I look forward to the photos. I will travel this route Thanksgiving and look forward to actually seeing the progress.

I assume that even if the Wardensville interchange is not finalized there are plans for a temporary exchange to route traffic on and off H once the bridges are completed. Where do you think that might be? Also, assuming LRS bridges are finished before McCauley, could they use the Wardensville to McCauley leg with a temporary interchange? If so, where might that be?
November 16, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Thats a good question. As of now I haven't heard anything official on that but there are only 3 places between Baker and Wardensville of where traffic could be routed on and off of CH. The first is Squirrel Gap road which is just about a mile west of the planned Wardensville interchange. This road isn't too hard to find because you continue leaving Wardensville and go up the first 'mountain' and past the two sharp turns. Upon coming across the top right after the last sharp turn, you will see a dirt road on your left. This is Squirrel Gap road. At this time, crews have not made any attemp to pave this stretch between old SR259/55 and CH. That tells me they probably won't use that as any sort of temporary interchange.

The second road is the Pinnacle Camp Road entrance/exit (I'm hesitant to call it an exit cause it's not). To find this road, you go past Squirrel Gap Road and continue down off the back side of Sandy Ridge. As you approach the construction site of the LRS bridges start slowing down. Continue to go under the bridges and across the old steel bridge on the turn. As you start to go up the next small hill on the turn, you will see a road immediately to your right which accesses Corridor H. This is the Pinnacle Camp intersection of which if you continued on Pinnacle Camp road, you would go to a gated private dirt mountain road.

It is very possible that this could be used as a temporary interchange which would bypass the LRS bridges, even though most likely they would be finished long before the Wardensville interchange is. Since the Sauerkraut Run Bridges are completed, this would allow for a possible temporary interchange at this location. Depending on how long it takes for the McCauley Bridges to get completed, I could forsee a secondary temporary interchange located at the Pine Ridge Road turn off since that piece of CH is being used for Pine Ridge Road traffic. WVDOT could simply have traffic get on at Pinnacle Camp Road, drive about 1.5 to 2 miles to Pine Ridge Road and exit off. Although for only a 1.5-2 mile stretch, that might be overuse of resources for WVDOT.

I would be somewhat strained to see a temporary interchange at Pinnacle Camp Road for more than a month or two at most. The location of this road is on a hill with a turn that limits vision of turning on and off of SR259/55 and creates a fairly dangerous turn with just one car. Plus the curves of the access road itself are a pretty sharp "S" style turn so larger 18 wheelers may not be able to handle that at all as well as making the tight turn onto SR259/55. I could be wrong, but I just don't see that road being used as a temporary interchange.

Pine Ridge Road is about the only one capable of handling large 18-wheelers for turning off with little problem, but that leads to the thought of... thats only 3 miles or so past Baker. Why would they open or extend it that tiny bit when the rest of it is nearly done? Overall I don't forsee any long term temporary interchange at any of these access roads mainly due to potential traffic problems handling the amount of traffic. Plus no construction crews have attempted to make any of these three access roads capable of handling volumes of traffic... or in Squirrel Gap Roads case... ANY traffic at all.

I hate to say it, and I could be wrong, but it looks like the Wardensville-Baker section may not be open at all until at least next ski season for any of us to enjoy it.

November 16, 2004
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
Lots of thanks for the update .. [sigh] guess still going to have to use the old route for this season. BUT ... we are really grateful for the heads up on the troopers ... we have a tendency to speed on the completed portion of CH. We already drive with extreme care thru Wardensville so I guess we just have to keep it down until we get thru Petersburg.
November 16, 2004
Member since 11/17/2003 🔗
60 posts
I frequently see state troopers on Corridor H. Just last Sunday I saw one giving someone a ticket. In addition to the troopers, deer on Corridor H can be a problem. Last Thursday night I was driving westbound on Corridor H with my cruise control set at 65. There wasn't any traffic, so I had my bright lights on. All of a sudden I saw a big buck standing in the right lane (my lane) and staring at me. I managed to slow to about 45 and I swerved into the left lane. Thank goodness the deer stayed put and didn't bound into the left lane. I would have hit it hard for sure.

November 16, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
You are very welcome for the info.

I noticed troopers and sheriff's department cars parked in numerous spots along CH and driving it alot. The most notable spots for any police are:

- After entering CH from Baker, up past the intial inclinde overlooking East Hard High School there is a hidden access road that serves no purpose. I've seen a trooper sit there.

- At the top of Branch Mountain (looooong incline upwards for 3 miles) there are some median strips and paved areas sheriff's deputies have been parked.

- After passing the North River Road junction, and just before you make the decline down the side of the ridge there is a strong turn to your left. On the right there is a farmers gated area for hay storage and I have seen numerous troopers park there so they can watch people for a mile coming across the huge bridge and watch them speed all the way up the side of the ridge and nail them.

- After crossing the big bridge outside of Moorefield there is a scenic overlook parking lot. Numerous police use that as a 'sniping' area to radar drivers.

BE CAREFUL this year when driving. The cops are out in full force on CH!
November 16, 2004
Member since 03/11/2004 🔗
237 posts

The speed limit for CH haven't changed, right?
November 17, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Nope, CH speedlimit is still 65, but with the mountains many people, including myself, cruise at 75 if not faster. Especially with those loooooong downhill spots where you can let the gas go it's easy to hit 75+ and not realize it.
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