POINT PLEASANT — The annual inspection of the Bartow Jones Bridge connecting Henderson to Point Pleasant is underway this week by the West Virginia Department of Highways (WVDOH).
The bridge is on an annual inspection rotation. Brent Walker with DOH said they hope the inspection will be completed by the end of the week.
The traffic patters will be on alternating single lane closures while the inspection is underway.
DOH does annual inspections of bridges to assess the condition of each element of the structures, according to Walker.
In the Transportation Asset Management Plan, which was released by WVDOH in 2019, statistics about the inventory and condition of bridges in West Virginia were released. According to the report, West Virginia has 1,294 bridges, which comprise of 24,504,470 square feed of deck area on the National Highway System (NHS). WVDOH owns 1,195 (92 percent) of the NHS bridges.
Over the last six years, the bridge conditions have decreased, according to statistics provided in the report. In 2014, about 30 percent of West Virginia NHS bridges were considered to be in “good” condition. Also in that year, about 8 percent of bridges were considered “poor” condition and about 60 percent were categorized as “fair.”
In 2019, 13.1 percent of those bridges were in “good” condition, while 15.3 percent were “poor.”
The report says that WVDOH has a set of objectives and targets to maintain the NHS bridges in a state of good repair. WVDOH aims to keep the bridges in “good” condition at at least 20 percent and those in “poor” condition below 10 percent. The report acknowledges that there are gaps between the present conditions and the target conditions.
WVDOH says the deficiencies that impact the ability to meet the goals could include: decreased funding in recent years for the bridge program and a relative shortage of internal pre-construction staffing.
Projections from NHS and WVDOH show that a “wave” of bridges built in the 1960’s and 1970’s could enter into the “poor” condition category around 2023. The DOH says that with the bridge inspection program, they were able to identify this potential wave and are able to plan ahead for funding and repairs.
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Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.