Engineers from the West Virginia Department of Highway (WVDOH) designed a solution to excavating a massive culvert affecting W.Va. Rt. 20 in Hinton, where bridge crews from several counties gathered to build a temporary bridge that opened to traffic on November 20.
The sinkhole is unlike any other, with very fine ash material falling down both the police station and the road itself.
The discovery of lead in the material makes a permanent solution more difficult, but a long-term fix is also underway.
“The workers of the West Virginia Department of Highways are considered the best in the country at accident management,” said Transportation Secretary Jamie Westron. “Time and time again, they have proven that they can come in and get the work done. They work together as one Department of Transportation.”
Joe Buck, deputy engineer for state highway operations, said a 90-year-old drain below the roadway began to collapse in June, leading to the collapse. While WVDOH is used to fix clogged or collapsed drains, the sheer scale of the problem in Hinton requires an unorthodox approach.
Department of Highway work teams installed a 120-foot temporary culvert and fill material under the road, but heavy rains from Hurricane Nicole on November 11 washed away the fill and made the culvert worse.
WVDOH’s fastest way to ensure continued safe travel on the W.Va. Rt. 20 In the area of the sinkhole, a temporary bridge has been built next to the sinkhole. WVDOH used a prefabricated bridge “kit”, manufactured by the Mabey Bridge Company, for the job.
The bridge consists of prefabricated beams and supports that can be assembled on site without the need for special tools or construction methods. The major components of the bridge arrived at Hinton on November 18 and crews began tying the sub-assemblies together.
“We put it together like one big Lego set,” Buck said.
A similar temporary bridge was recently installed in Laneville, in Tucker County, to replace a bridge that was closed for safety reasons.
A crew of 16 men and women from District 9, District 10, and WVDOH Central Troops spent most Fridays and Saturdays cementing the bridge together.
With Thanksgiving approaching, they were thankful that the snow flurries didn’t turn into heavy snow.
The main span was completed on 19 November and the bridge reopened to traffic at approximately 2:30 PM on 20 November.
The temporary bridge is 11 feet long by 9 inches wide and 13 feet six inches high due to overhead power lines.
The temporary bridge will be in place until WVDOH can complete repairs to the existing canal to restore water flow under the roadway until a permanent 300-foot steel drainage structure can be installed. Officials hope to put the permanent fix up for a bid by the end of the year.