|Westbound tunnel entrance|
|Location||Wheeling, West Virginia|
|Route||I‑70 / US 250|
|Work begun||August 22, 1963|
|Vehicles per day||59,600 (2009 AADT)|
|Length||0.27 mi (430 m)|
|Number of lanes||2 each|
|Operating speed||45 mph (72 km/h)|
The Wheeling Tunnel is a pair of tunnels in Wheeling, Ohio County, West Virginia. The tunnels allow Interstate 70 and U.S. Route 250 to go through Wheeling Hill. Each tunnel has two lanes of each road.
The tunnel is run by the West Virginia Division of Highways. Opened in 1966, the Wheeling Tunnel cost $6.9 million to build. It was rebuilt between 2007 and 2010 for $13.7 million. In 2009, an average of 59,600 cars used the tunnel every day.
Overview[change | change source]
The Wheeling Tunnel is between exits 1A and 1B on Interstate 70 and U.S. Route 250. These two highways use the same road through the city of Wheeling to go through Wheeling Hill. People who need to use exit 1A at the western end of the tunnels use the tunnels' right lanes as acceleration (speeding up) and deceleration (slowing down) lanes. Changing lanes is not allowed inside the tunnel.
Making the tunnel[change | change source]
A total of 13,000 square feet (1,200 m2) of industrial tile was used to cover the inside of the tunnels. The tunnels cost $6.9 million (which is the same as $56 million in 2020) to build. The then-governor of West Virginia, William Wallace Barron, and the state roads commissioner started construction on the tunnel on August 22, 1963. Barron said it was the largest single building project in the state's Interstate Highway program. The state gave the construction contract to C.J. Langenfelder & Son, Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland. During construction, several workers became sick after breathing a lot of carbon monoxide. As a result, the company stopped construction in 1964 until fans were installed. The tunnel officially opened to traffic on December 7, 1966.
Rebuilding the tunnel[change | change source]
The West Virginia Division of Highways began planning to rebuild the tunnel in 2005. Rebuilding began in January 2007. The plan allowed three months for the work. However, rebuilding of the eastbound tunnel took over eleven months. There were problems with the glue that attached the tiles to the tunnel wall. Problems with drains in the tunnel also caused delays. Workers found a coal mine in the tunnel. This also delayed the project.
Local officials suggested closing the tunnels because of these problems. They planned to just build a road over Wheeling Hill instead. Building the new road would have removed at least fifty families from their homes. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was against this plan because those people's houses would be destroyed. The state canncelled the plan for the new road. Rebuilding of the eastbound tunnel started again in July 2008.
During this rebuilding of the eastbound tunnel, the westbound tunnel was only closed overnight for rebuilding. New guard rails, fire sprinklers, and security cameras were added. The whole tunnel was also cleaned very well. Workers put a new road surface in the tunnel. A German tile maker replaced the tiles. The German company got the contract because no other company could finish the work on time. The company finished rebuilding the eastbound tunnel on October 31, 2008. The state closed the westbound tunnel in February 2010. It opened a month ahead of schedule in September 2010. The total cost of the project was over double the original plan. It totaled $13.7 million because of the delays.
References[change | change source]
- "Break Ground for Wheeling Tunnel". The Washington Observer. Washington, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. August 23, 1963. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- I70 - Ohio to Pennsylvania (PDF) (Map). West Virginia Department of Transportation. 2009. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- Google Maps – Wheeling Tunnel (Map). Cartography by Tele Atlas. Google, Inc. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- Google Maps – I-70 Westbound at western portal (Map). Cartography by Tele Atlas. Google, Inc. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
- Cardelli, Renee; Cain, Jackie (August 28, 2006). "Local Candidate Pushes For Wheeling Tunnel Safety". WTOV-TV. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- Connors, Fred (March 12, 2007). "W.Va. Courts Tile Makers". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. Archived from the original on March 19, 2007. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2008". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved August 1, 2009.
- "Local Man is Among 14 Overcome by Fumes at Wheeling Tunnel Project". The Washington Observer. Washington, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. July 24, 1964. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- Echemann, Jerry (February 17, 2005). "Reaction to Wheeling Tunnel Renovations". West Virginia Media. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- Connors, Fred (October 27, 2007). "Ready or Not, Tunnel to Open". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- Lash, Cindy (May 27, 2007). "Sticky problems cause delays in repairs to Wheeling Tunnel". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- Novotney, Steve (March 30, 2007). "Wheeling Tunnel Project Faces Delays, Growing Budget". The State Journal.
- Connors, Fred; Joselyn King (January 6, 2008). "Tunnel Removal Good Idea, But Not Feasible". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- Connors, Fred (March 12, 2008). "NAACP Takes Issue With Tunnel Cut Plan". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "Motorists Warned to Avoid Wheeling Tunnel". WHSV-TV. July 23, 2008. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "Construction To Resume On Wheeling Tunnel Westbound Lanes". WOTV-TV. September 12, 2008. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- Towne, Leigh Ann (October 31, 2008). "Eastbound Tube of Wheeling Tunnel to Open Friday". West Virginia Media. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- Johnson, Jr., J.W. (February 2, 2010). "Tube Closed Until October". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "Wheeling Tunnel to open Sept. 2". Charleston Daily Mail. Associated Press. August 28, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "Answer Tunnel Cost Questions". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. June 26, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
Other websites[change | change source]
Media related to Wheeling Tunnel at Wikimedia Commons
- Wheeling Tunnel at BridgeHunter.com