CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Construction work is on schedule to open the new Donald M. Legg Memorial Bridge to traffic by the end of the year.
The new bridge being built between the Nitro and St. Albans interchanges is part of an approximately $225 million project funded through Gov. Jim Justice’s Roads to Prosperity Program. The project will widen I-64 between the bridge and the US 35 interchange and ease congestion over the existing bridge.
“That area is a bottleneck,” said Todd Rumbaugh, P.E., West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) Chief Engineer of Construction. “You’ve got six lanes coming up to the Nitro exit, and it goes down to four lanes all the way to the US 35 exit. Then it’s six lanes again.”
Rumbaugh said the WVDOH decided to build a new bridge and widen I-64 to open the bottleneck and allow traffic to flow more safely and smoothly in the area. I-64 between Huntington and Charleston is one of West Virginia’s most heavily traveled roads.
Contractors began lifting steel beams into place high over the Kanawha River in February 2022 to build the new bridge. Cost of the project is approximately $34.6 million.
The new bridge is on schedule to open to traffic by the end of the year.
“When that happens, we’ll shift traffic over to the new bridge,” Rumbaugh said. “Then we’ll dismantle the old bridge.”
Plans call for building a second bridge where the current bridge is located, using a portion of the existing bridge pilings. That project, at a cost of about $18 million, is expected to begin once the new bridge is open to traffic.
With two bridges, traffic will be shifted to allow westbound traffic to use the new bridge, while eastbound traffic will use the rebuilt existing bridge. Each bridge will be four lanes wide to allow traffic to pass between Nitro and St. Albans without having to enter the main traffic lanes.
Meanwhile widening work continues between the bridge and the US 35 interchange. Contractors have been working to add new lanes in the former median.
Once that work is finished, traffic will be shifted into the new median lanes to allow work on the outer lanes.