Wheeling Suspension Bridge repaired, reopened

Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo by Ian Hicks Traffic moves on the reopened Wheeling Suspension Bridge on Monday.
Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo by Ian Hicks Traffic moves on the reopened Wheeling Suspension Bridge on Monday.
Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo by Ian Hicks
Traffic moves on the reopened Wheeling Suspension Bridge on Monday.

WHEELING, W.Va. — The Wheeling Suspension Bridge reopened to traffic Monday afternoon, about four days ahead of schedule.

The West Virginia Division of Highways closed the bridge – the oldest of its type in the world still in use – Friday morning due to a snapped cable which prevents the span from swaying. Officials said the extreme cold temperatures caused an eye bolt which connects the 400-foot cable to the bridge deck to fail.

It was initially estimated repairs would take about a week, but acting DOH District 6 Manager Gus Suwaid said crews worked through the weekend to fabricate a new eye bolt and make the bridge safe for vehicular traffic again.

“Thankfully, the cable was not damaged. The only thing that was damaged was the eye bolt,” he said.

That made it a much easier fix than in March 2013 when rust and corrosion caused a similar cable to snap, closing the bridge for about two weeks. All repair work was completed in-house.

“I’m very proud of our crews for that,” he said.

Suwaid said workers conducted a visual inspection of other cables on the bridge and deemed the span safe to reopen, even though temperatures are expected to continue dipping below zero throughout the week.

“You can never foresee what’s going to happen … ,” he said of the potential for problems with other cables due to the cold. “There was a problem and we corrected it. There was no sense in keeping it closed down.”

The 166-year-old Suspension Bridge remains slated for an $8.25 million rehabilitation, which will include cosmetic as well as minor structural upgrades, to begin sometime in 2016. The span is expected to close for a year or more.

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