POINT PLEASANT — The Bartow Jones Bridge is undergoing its semi-annual inspection, and though traffic will not be stopped on the structure, at times one lane will be closed to allow a safe work zone for inspectors.
The inspection began on Tuesday and should be completed by the end of this week, according to Brent Walker with the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH).
Walker said the bridge is being inspected by Fox Enterprise and the report on their findings, though not required for 90 days, should be done earlier than that.
The Bartow Jones Bridge is on a two-year inspection cycle while Walker explained any bridge that crosses the Ohio River from West Virginia is inspected every year. For example, the Bridge of Honor which connects Pomeroy, Ohio with Mason is on an annual, inspection schedule. Also, in Ohio, all bridges are inspected on an annual basis.
Walker said though it varies, most bridges in West Virginia are on at least a two-year inspection cycle with older and larger ones, such as the New River Gorge Bridge, being inspected every year. Federal law mandates the inspection of all publicly owned bridges. These mandated inspections became law after the collapse of the Silver Bridge in 1967.
According to WVDOH statistics, there are some 36,000 miles of state-maintained highways that include 6,636 bridges (this figure does not include 238 railroad bridges, 117 city and county bridges, 99 West Virginia Turnpike bridges, 20 state park bridges, two private toll bridges and 132 other non-highway bridges).
Statistics also show only 50 of West Virginia’s bridges were built before 1900 and only 354 in the following two decades. The majority, nearly 3,990 (60 percent) were built between 1960 and 1999. Of nearly 50 types of bridges listed, the greatest number are steel stringer (2,411) and pre-cast concrete box beam (1,532), with only 82 constructed of timber.
The Bartow Jones Bridge was completed in 1998.