April 2013

Local 5 Ironworkers Erect Shenandoah River Bridge

Local 5 (Washington, D.C.) ironworkers completed work on time October 31, 2012, on the new Shenandoah River Bridge. The Design-Build project, awarded to union contractor Trumbull Corporation on January 5, 2010, by the West Virginia Department of Transportation-Division of Highways, aimed to create a new bridge over the Shenandoah River in Jefferson County, W. Va.. The project employed 20 ironworkers for more than 150,000 man-hours. Trumbull has been a union contractor since incorporation in 1955.

The project’s stretch of roadway is a portion of the recently upgraded WV Route 9, a partially controlled access, four-lane divided highway, which extends from the Charles Town Bypass on US 340 to the West Virginia and Virginia state line. The project included the approaches to the bridge, which will carry West Virginia Route 9 between County Route 27 and County Route 32/2, a distance of approximately 1,805 feet.

The Delta-Rahmen Bridge stretches 1,650 feet across the Shenandoah River Valley, carrying the highway 200 feet above the river below. The substructure consists of two abutments and four piers, utilizing 560,000 pounds of reinforcing steel, 7,700 cubic yards of concrete and 43,000 square feet of formwork. The second abutment also required the construction of a 200-foot long, 45-foot tall MSE wall. The superstructure of the bridge contains nearly 13 million pounds of structural steel and utilizes a five-girder, four-substringer system supported by five lines of Delta Legs. A Conspan bridge system was used on one side of the bridge to eliminate an additional span on the main bridge structure. This Conspan bridge was 105 feet long, 24 feet wide, and 20 feet tall, with the heaviest piece weighing 52,000 pounds.

A study report in 1978 (A Study Report on the Eastern Panhandle Area Transportation Study) ranked this project as the first priority highway need for the area. It would upgrade an approximate five-mile stretch of WV 9 into a four-lane divided highway, which not only would provide swifter, easier travel, but also would be materially safer than the present route. The existing WV 9 was designed as a rural-collector road when it was constructed around 1930. The world and the Eastern Panhandle both have changed dramatically since then.

A great deal of the population increase in Jefferson County has occurred in the area where the Division of Highways (DOH) proposed to place this project. Over a 20-year period (1992–2012), the average daily traffic was anticipated to increase from 10,500 to 22,100 vehicles per day. Much of that growth is present today, apparently fulfilling the prediction that the entire portion of the WV 9 study area is operating at an unacceptable level of service in both directions. Safety is the primary purpose for the project. The results of previous studies indicate that the number of accidents along current WV 9
was 32 percent higher than the statewide average for similar facilities, and fatalities along this roadway were 76 percent higher than the state’s average.

The construction of this approximate five-mile segment currently is estimated to be $153 million, which includes previously completed projects, projects under contract and future construction projects. This segment is significantly more expensive on a per-mile basis than others because a major bridge must be constructed across the Shenandoah River as the four-lane road approaches the Virginia border.

The Shenandoah Bridge is one of the longest, if not the longest, steel Delta-Frame bridge built in the U.S. The bridge type, a rigid steel delta-frame is sometimes referred to as a Delta-Rahmen bridge (the word Rahmen being German for “frame”). They are a rarer form of rigid steel frame than their cousin, the slant-leg frames. These types are sometimes called Pi-Rahmen, because of their shape. Either of the types of rigid frame (slant-leg or delta frame) is unique because it combines the behavior of both girder and arch bridge forms.

The bridge has 12,891,527 pounds of steel that rise almost 220 feet above the Shenandoah River, the main delta-frame structure spans 1400 feet, with an overall bridge length of 1650 feet.

This was the final piece of the Route 9 Corridor tying West Virginia to the Virginia line.

Local 5 President John Rayner is extremely proud of the work done by our union ironworkers and stated, “The bridge was completed on time and on budget for the topping off ceremony on October 31, 2012. The Shenandoah River Bridge project was another fine example of the value of union ironworkers.”

Shenandoah River Bridge Facts

• Construction of a new Delta-Rahmen bridge
• Bridge length of 1,650 feet
• Bridge height of 200 feet above Shenandoah River
• MSE wall construction
• “Mass concrete” substructure
• 12,900,000 pounds of structural steel in superstructure
• Utilizes a Conspan bridge system