WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — A historic West Virginia suspension bridge will be undergoing major repairs, but it's not clear whether the span will reopen to traffic.
The West Virginia Division of Highways and Gov. Jim Justice announced on Monday that a $17.9 million contract had been awarded to repair and rehabilitate the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, The Intelligencer Wheeling News-Register reported. The project will make repairs on the span's superstructure and substructure as well as clean, paint, replace damaged suspension cables and renovate lighting, officials said.
"It is absolutely fantastic news for the city of Wheeling to know that its most iconic structure, the Suspension Bridge, is going to be fully repaired and rehabilitated," Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott said on Monday.
The future of the historic 1849 bridge was in question after officials closed the span to vehicle traffic in 2019 since motorists repeatedly ignored the Division of Highways weight restrictions and warnings on the structure. Multiple overweight vehicles tried to cross it leading to damage and it's unclear whether the repairs will allow the bridge to reopen to traffic. After the contractor begins work on the bridge, crews will determine the extent of the damage and officials will then determine how the bridge will be used going forward.
State officials decided to delay repairs on the span after putting the project out to bid last year and receiving only one proposal that exceeded the engineer's estimate for the work.
"I'm excited that this incredibly important project to rehabilitate the Wheeling Suspension Bridge is now in the works," Justice said. "This bridge is a landmark piece of our state's history, and I am fully committed to doing all we can to preserve it for generations to come."
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