On November 20th, 2014, the US Federal Highway Administration released a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the New Ohio River Bridge between Brilliant, OH, and Wellsburg, WV. The projected cost of the New Ohio River Bridge was $120 million. The report outline and key findings follow.
The FONSI is a major and significant milestone. It completes the environmental process and public involvement requirements. It is an endorsement by the US Federal Highway Administration, an essential financial partner in the construction of the proposed $120 million highway link.
Next steps included the preparation of a state line agreement between Ohio and West Virginia and preliminary/final design work. Funding scenarios were discussed and ranged from bonding to public-private cooperation.
Phase I Report
The purpose of the Phase I Report was to analyze and determine the need for a new Ohio River Bridge crossing within an area extending from the former location of the Fort Steuben Bridge north of Steubenville, OH to the southern most end of Brooke County, WV. The study report was an outgrowth of the BHJ 2020 Regional Transportation Plan, adopted January 1998, that identified a new Ohio River Bridge as the top priority transportation project in the in the three-county region. PKG Consultants, Inc. completed the Phase I Report in June 2000.
- The Fort Steuben Bridge and Market Street Bridge are past their design life.
- A circumstance in which only one river crossing exists within the metropolitan area would create an unacceptable emergency response time situation.
- Due to inherent design characteristics, neither the Fort Steuben Bridge nor the Market Street Bridge can be updated to modern standards.
- Due to weight limits on the Market Street Bridge, the closing of the Fort Steuben Bridge would leave the region with only one crossing capable of carrying commercial truck traffic.
- Access to and from the Veterans Memorial Bridge is vulnerable to accident blockage and deficient intersection design.
- The concentration of all river crossing capacity within a small geographic area constrains the overall flexibility of the regional transportation system.
Phase II Report
Phase II, through a publicly-approved quantitative matrix, walked the community through logical constraints and benefits. It concludes with a consensus priority statement for bridge location and access improvements. In May 2003, the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission formally adopted the priority statement.
To complete this Phase II study, various alternatives for bridge crossings were developed based on preliminary engineering analysis. Locations were identified that could facilitate east-west movements or to serve population and employment centers on each side of the River. These included replacing the existing bridges in their current location as well as two options for a new bridge in the southern portion of the planning area. These options initially formed seven scenarios including a Baseline, or “no-build,” option. Four additional scenarios were developed using a combination of bridge locations with northern and southern alternatives.
Cover & Table of Contents
Executive Summary Introduction
Description of Study Area (Existing Bridges)
Description of Study Area (Economic Conditions Pt1)
Description of Study Area (Economic Conditions Pt2)
Description of Study Area (Condition Analysis)
Goals and Objectives
Public Involvement Process
Final Planning Process
Final Recommendations & Project Priority
Final Complete Document (5.4 MB)
Phase III Report
This document provided an evaluation of anticipated environmental impacts associated with the construction of a new Ohio River Bridge for highway vehicles located south of Wellsburg in Brooke County, West Virginia and in the proximity of the unincorporated area of Brilliant, Wells Township, in Jefferson County, Ohio. The level of environmental documentation presented was an Environmental Assessment (EA). Alternatives considered in this EA included: the No-Build, Transportation System Management (TSM) and Build. The EA evaluated the anticipated socioeconomic, cultural and natural environmental impacts of the proposed project in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969.
Cover Page & Summary
Table of Contents
CH1 Purpose & Need
CH3 Environmental Effects
CH5 Distribution List
Appendix A Agency Coordination
Appendix B Public Workshop Comments
Appendix C 4(f) De Minimis Impact Analysis
Appendix D Draft Programmatic AGR Archaelogic Resources
Deck Width Study Report
HDR Engineering, Inc. (HDR) conducted these studies and prepared this report with the primary objective of determining the relative cost of various deck width options for the Proposed Ohio River Bridge, generally referred to as the Wellsburg Bridge. This study report was based on the Alternative Crossing 8B alignment and configuration as shown in Appendix A (Sheets A-1 through A-3). Alternative 8B is the Preferred Alternative, as described in the Phase III Report.
2016 Wellsburg Bridge Update
The construction phase of the project will follow the design-build process. The successful contractor will submit a bid that reflects completing the overall design and constructing the project.
WV Department of Highways (WVDOH) is the contracting agency. Funding for the project is following a public-private partnership process (PPP). This process requires the successful contractor to upfront the cost of the overall project with WVDOH paying the contractor back over a period of five years.
ODOT’s share of the project will be reimbursed to WVDOH over a period of ten years. The PPP allows the highway agencies to spread their costs out for cash flow purposes.
A mandatory pre-bid conference was held in April 2016 in Charleston. The estimated cost for construction at that time was around $130 million. In July 2016 three bids, ranging from $131.02 million to $188.11 million were received for the bridge. Flatiron Constructors Inc., headquartered in Broomfield, Colo., was awarded the contract with the low bid of $131,021,465.
In September 2016 ODOT reported right-of-way was acquired for all but one of the affected properties in Ohio. The contractor is responsible for right-of-way acquisition on the West Virginia side.
In the fall of 2016, Flat Iron Construction proposed changing the bridge from a cable stayed design to a tied arch design. A tied arch span can be constructed offsite and the contractor plans to build the main structure elsewhere and transport it by barge to the bridge’s site.
In November 2016 ODOT representatives said there’s room for variance in the new bridge’s overall appearance. Flatiron Construction will be working with engineers with RS&H of Toledo and COWI of New York to submit a formal design for state highway approval.
Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2018. The completion date, originally thought to be March or April 2022, is hoped to be completed by March 2021.