The only paving machine in the state of West Virginia wide enough to pave two lanes at the same time is currently in use on US 35 in Putnam County.
West Virginia Division of Highways’ paving contractor, West Virginia Paving, Inc., is using the Roadtec paving machine on 15-mile section of US 35, the last section of the highway between Interstate 64 and the West Virginia/Ohio state line to be upgraded from two lanes to four lanes.
“Instead of paving a lane that’s 12 feet wide, we’re paving a lane that’s 28 feet wide,” said Clif Farley, West Virginia Division of Highways project manager for the US 35 project. “It gets rid of the longitudinal joints.”
The 28-foot paver has been in use about two weeks. Construction of the last four-lane section of US 35 is on track to be finished sometime in the fall.
Ordinarily when DOH paves or repaves a road, they’re restricted to paving a 12-foot lane at a time. Work crews will typically shut down one lane of traffic, pave that lane, then shut down the other lane for paving.
The technique allows paving on roads that have traffic on them. But it also leaves a seam down the middle of the road where water and salt can collect in winter, freezing and thawing and eventually leading to cracks or potholes.
The contractor’s 28-foot paving machine is ideal for paving new roads. It doesn’t leave a seam, which should add up to longer pavement life in the long run.
“It’s pretty cool,” Farley said. “I worked in resurfacing in the 1990s, and we were talking about it then, how we’d like to have a machine that could pave two lanes at once.”
With work continuing in all 55 counties across the state, the West Virginia Division of Highways and the West Virginia Department of Transportation remind the public of the importance of keeping everyone safe in work zones by keeping “Heads up; phones down!”