Corridor H - August Update
It's that time of month again... more Corridor H updates. I know most of you all start drooling thinking about a 20 minute Wardensville to Moorefield drive, so get those napkins ready! The good news is that this trip is closer to reality than I thought it would be just a month ago.
Just to get everyone even more excited, I am waiting to hear back from officials at WVDOT about getting permission to 'tour' the new Foreman section as well get the latest info on it. I hope to personally deliever a story to DCSki.com just on the Foreman section sometime soon with WVDOT's final plans on how that section of road will be.
Section 1a (Wardensville - Lost River Sinks Bridges): Not much has changed here since the pictures I posted last month. APAC paving crews finished up last week paving from Squirrel Gap Road to the Lost River Sinks Bridges. The final 1" layer of fine grade gravel pavement should be complete. This is the layer that traffic drives on.
Survey crews also began marking Rt 55/259 outside of Wardensville on what appears to be a modification to the road for the CorridorH/Trout Run/SR 55/259 intersection. My best guess is that crews will make this a 3 lane section at the base of Sandy Ridge. Allowing westbound traffic to stay to the right and proceed forward, a middle lane to allow traffic to turn left to enter Trout Run Road, and the far left lane for east bound traffic into Wardensville. This normally is a very simple engineering process but with as many homes and property in that immediate area, construction may take longer than normal.
Also little or no work has been done to the Corridor H/Trout Run intersection since last month. As I mentioned previously this is going to be a unique intersection. To enter Corridor H going west bound you will have to climb half of Sandy Ridge and just before you come to the first 180* turn, crews will modify this to create a stopped intersection. The road will then proceed straight forward rather than make the 180* turn. Traffic coming off the mountain on old SR 259/55 will be required to stop here. East bound traffic will notice a split in Corridor H with the westbound lane veering off to the left to intersect with Old 55, but the eastbound traffic will continue forward towards Wardensville. The eastbound lanes will continue for another 1/4 of a mile or so where traffic will cross a bridge that is over the Trout Run Cut Off Road. Immediately after crossing the bridge traffic will make a HARD right hand turn that will either be a 180* turn or possibly a 270* turn depending on how the final intersection is made.
Anyway going back to the construction update... little or no work has occured here. No abutments for a bridge have begun construction, no steel girders have been brought in for that project, nothing. Not that this project would take very long compared to others. The section from this future bridge upto the Squirrel Gap road is still unpaved and has no gravel on it to begin paving. This is roughtly a mile to mile and half section.
As of this morning the Lost River Sinks Bridges still do not have all of the girders installed. The piers were finished up last week with the forms coming off and 18wheelers delievering the girders. I expect the rest of the girders to be installed by next Friday (Aug. 13). Outside of installing girders no other work has occured on the bridges. Although the rustic guardrails were installed between the LRS Bridges and Squirrel Gap Road.
Section 1a (Lost River Sinks Bridges - Pine Ridge Road):: Just as it is with the preveious section, 95% of this section has been paved with the final layer of pavement. The Saurkraut Road bridges are nearly completed with the concrete floor already poured and being used by crews. The side concrete rails have yet to be poured.
Minor landscaping work has been finished up in the median area and on the shoulders with large rocks being replaced with fine topsoil and having been seeded with erosion prevention in place. This section is basically done except the Saurkraut Run Bridges.
Section 1a (Pine Ridge Road - McCauley Bridges):
NOTICE - DETOUR & TRAFFIC SLOWDOWN EXPECTED!!!
This is where most of the action has been taking place in recent weeks. Seven of the piers at the McCauley Bridges are complete with five more scheduled to be completed within three more weeks. Crews have already begun installing girders on the Pine Ridge side of the river. I severely underestimated the amount of curvature AND banking that is going to be in this bridge until I saw the first sets of girders. I hope to get some pictures of this soon.
The big news for people traveling through is a new, temporary detour that will be affecting traffic in the coming weeks. Appearantly due to the height and compact work area of this bridge an exceptionally large crane is going to have to be brought in to install girders across SR 55/259 and across the river. In order to have space for this crane, part of SR 55/259 will be detoured to go behind the massive piers along side the highway. For those unsure what I am talking about... when you are driving to Timberline on the current SR 55 and you go through McCauley, you see two MASSIVE piers on your left. The road continues on between the piers and the dirt embankment. This has been changed. The new detour will direct traffic to go around the back side of these two piers, go immediately infront of the WVDOT field office/house and re-adjoin the current highway. The good news is that this appears to be a 2 lane detour and not one that would require stoplights.
My best engineering estimates would say this could be upto a month of detouring depending on weather and how quick crews are able to install the girders. AVOID traveling in the hours of 6AM - 11AM as this is when most delays will take place.
Section 1a (McCauley Bridges - Baker): This section is 75% complete. The road between the McCauley Bridges and Baker bridges is complete with guardrails already installed. Work continues on the two bridges that cross Lost River. The concrete floor and side rails have been finished meaning only landscaping and paving upto the bridges is required.
The two exits on that side of the road are currently underconstruction as well. previously these were no more than access roads for larger equipment but as of the last 3 weeks crews have been surveying this off and actually digging out the road to spread gravel for the base of the actual exit. Gravel is spread and packed, but no pavement yet.
Minor landscaping work continues on the bridges that cross SR 259 at Baker with crews today installing metal guardrail on the ends of the bridges and extended a concrete barrier for a distance on both ends of the bridges.
Again my estimation of an April 2005 opening still stands. With the amount of hours of daylight really starting to decrease as we enter into fall next month, crews are going to be extremely limited to worktime on the bridges. Remember the forms have to be constructed on the bottom side of the bridge, then steel rebar has to be finely woven and connected the entire length of the deck. For both Lost River Sinks and the McCauley Bridges having such curvature and banking this will be even harder than usual.
Also the length of these bridges makes this a very time consuming effort. Afterwards the concrete has to be poured, then forms installed for the side barriers, rebar constructed again, and finally more concrete poured. Under best conditions, the decking of these bridges would be done by Thanksgiving week in November. It would be nearly physically impossible to accomplish this any sooner.
While we may not be able to enjoy a completed section this ski season, we will next spring and for years to come afterwards.
Just a side note for everyone. I drove home from Moorefield today on Old SR55 and only encountered 2 vehicles the entire strech from Moorefield to Baker. Talk about a seemingly barren road... that is now it. I also found the surface of the road to be much more different and for the better. With Corridor H open in that area, the rains have washed away leaking truck oils and tire rubber that collected on the road surface all of those years. Now it's a very gritty, very firm road to drive on if you are in the next of the woods and have time for a leisure drive.
Until next month...