Eastbound traffic on Interstate 64 is again flowing across the Nitro-St. Albans bridge after work was completed early Saturday morning to repair a faulty expansion joint.
The issue with the bridge, identified as a broken bolt that allowed a set of 2-inch-wide steel shims to separate and cause the expansion joint to become loose, was discovered Thursday afternoon. Eastbound lanes of the bridge had remained closed while state Division of Highways crews assessed the damage and began the repair process.
Traffic headed east into the Kanawha Valley was detoured off I-64 at the St. Albans exit and onto U.S. 60.
DOH officials said Thursday they hoped to have repairs completed in 48 hours. In a news release announcing the completed repairs Saturday morning, officials praised the crews who worked to meet that deadline.
“The job our transportation team did, with the assistance from our law enforcement and contractor partners, to complete these repairs in this short amount of time cannot be overstated,” said Secretary of Transportation Byrd White.
“From our traffic engineering to our maintenance crews and, in particular, our bridge crew, it was a total team effort with many logistical considerations.”
Crews worked throughout the night Thursday and into Friday replacing the shims and bolts used to hold the expansion joint in place. By Friday afternoon, they had built wooden forms into which concrete was poured to resurface the bridge deck.
While officials said the new concrete reached an acceptable level of compressive strength to reopen the bridge early Saturday morning, engineers opted to allow extra time for the concrete to cure before allowing traffic to pass. Traffic across the bridge resumed around 6 a.m.
“I said that to complete these repairs within 48 hours would really be a feat,” said state bridge engineer Tracy Brown. “Our bridge crew worked around the clock, in some difficult weather conditions, to make these repairs, and I could not be more proud of their work.”