Long-awaited bridge work underway on River Road

by Kate Shunney

Contractors began work on a new bridge over Sleepy Creek along River Road on May 3, and major excavation work unfolded last week for the structure.

Rock Forge Bridge Company, LLC of Amma, W.Va. was the winning bidder to construct the Sleepy Creek Arch Bridge. Their bid of $1,933,906 was one of two received on March 13. Carl Belt, Inc. of Cumberland, Md. submitted a bid of $2.03 million.

Sleepy Creek Arch bridge

Daniel Watts, from the West Virginia Division of Highways Construction Department, said the bridge will be built “along a new alignment” – roughly 100 feet downstream of the existing one-lane bridge.

Sleepy Creek Arch Bridge, built in 1923, has been heavily damaged in recent years.

Several tractor-trailers and large trucks have struck or become wedged on the concrete bridge, which has a sharp approach from River Road. Signs warn trucks not to use River Road as a shortcut from Martinsburg Road to Hancock, but trucks regularly get stuck there.

The current bridge will continue to be used until the new bridge and a new roadway approach are finished. A state bid document says Rock Forge must complete the bridge by October 19 of this year.

Contractors will work within a 3.7-acre area, according to a state stormwater permit for the project.

Heavy rains last week made for messy excavation work, but contractors continued to clear areas on both sides of River Road to accommodate the new bridge.

The current bridge is 103 feet long and 15.5 feet wide.

Rock Forge will build a single-span steel bridge with concrete decking that will be 158 feet long and 30 feet wide. Watts said each lane will be 11 feet wide, with a four foot shoulder on each side. The bridge will have integrated abutments and concrete sides, he said.

The existing bridge serves an average of 670 vehicles per day, according to state traffic data from 2008. Designers estimate that traffic number will rise to 800 per day by 2028.

Watts said total estimated cost for the project, including engineering and construction, is $2.18 million.