Ices Ferry Farewell

Old bridge’s dismantling starts Monday

Morgantown Dominion Post
21 July 2012
By Evelyn Ryan

Workers continue to make progress on the new bridge over Cheat Lake while the old Ices Ferry Bridge is in its final days. Crews are expected to dismantle then drop the structure starting Monday. Ron Rittenhouse/Dominion Post

Piece by piece, starting Monday, the old Ices Ferry Bridge over Cheat Lake will be taken apart and removed.

The West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) said Friday construction crews will start by removing portions of the old bridge’s rusted steel deck grid.

The bridge was closed to traffic in May 2011, when Brayman Construction began work on the new structure, located next to the old one. The $12.5 million new bridge is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, weather permitting.

People on foot and bikers have continued to use the old bridge, built in 1922, to cross the lake.

That won’t be possible starting Monday, noted Jason Nelson, DOH District 4 construction engineer.

“They are going to being cutting off and removing non-structural components of the old bridge the first of next week,” he said.

Work will continue on the new bridge, he said. Plans are to begin putting in the deck sometime in the next 10 days or so.

Once the demolition starts, and the contractor determines what shape the old bridge is in, plans for the rest of the demolition will be developed.

“They will use explosives to break the bridge apart, into usable sections,” Nelson said. It won’t be as spectacular as the Star City Bridge demolition.

“They are basically going to blast, drop it into the water (about 10 feet). That’s it.”

Crews prepare the new bridge to receive concrete, which should be poured later this month. Ron Rittenhouse/Dominion Post

Workers will cut the steel at the abutments and other key areas so it can drop quickly. The sections will be further cut into pieces so they can quickly be removed from the lake, he added, “so as to not block the lake more than they have to.”

Although the contract calls for the bridge to be completed by Oct. 31, First Energy begins lowering the lake to its winter level during October.

DOH officials said the water level on Cheat Lake will be too low in the fall to support the barges used during construction. The dry, hot weather has affected the lake level, however.

“We have enough water depth right now,” Nelson said, “but it is low, according to our guys, as low as it can go for summer pool.”

The lake is created by the Lake Lynn Power Plant, owned by First Energy. Todd Meyers, a First Energy spokesman, said the plant manager reported that because of the dry months, the level has been hovering at 868 feet above sea level. That’s the minimum requirement for recreation on the lake.

“It’s a balancing act because we are also trying to generate power there as well,” Meyers said, to meet “the power demand in the northeast from the hot weather.”

At 868 feet, there shouldn’t be any trouble with the barges.

The lake itself is deepest in front of the dam, 75-90 feet. At the bridge construction site, it is 20-25 feet deep, he noted.