The West Virginia Department of Highways announced Friday, July 16, that eastbound motorists on I-64 can expect to see rolling roadblocks between mile posts 40 and 47.2 for blasting associated with the rebuilding of the St. Albans interchange. Blasting is scheduled one blast per day between noon and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday until the end of August.
Trucks will also be crossing the St. Albans entrance and exit ramps from time to time during construction. Flaggers will be used to direct traffic.
Contractors set off the first explosive blast on Tuesday, July 20. Jason Hamilton, District 1 Area Engineer for Construction, said Tuesday’s blast was to loosen up rock and dirt for a new road contour on the St. Albans exit ramp that ties in with WV 817. The blast went off without a hitch at 12:29 p.m.
Contractors closed St. Albans and Nitro interstate ramps for a few minutes before and after the blast for safety. West Virginia State Police, Putnam County sheriff’s deputies and Nitro city police also instituted rolling roadblocks on the interstate.
In a rolling roadblock, law enforcement drives in front of traffic and slows the traffic stream down until safely past the construction work. Hamilton said the rolling roadblocks began at Cross Lanes for westbound traffic and at Scott Depot for traffic heading east. Rolling roadblocks kept contractors from having to close the interstate completely during the blast.
“Traffic was affected very little,” Hamilton said.
Between the first ramp closures and the time the ramps reopened and rolling roadblocks stopped after the blast was about 12 minutes, Hamilton said.
The construction is part of the $224 million widening project on Interstate 64 between Nitro and the US 35 interchange at Scott Depot. The project includes a new Nitro-St. Albans Bridge to serve westbound traffic.
“We’re updating and upgrading our facilities to reduce traffic congestion and to increase safety on this very busy section of Interstate 64,” said DOH Deputy State Highway Engineer Ryland Musick. The bridge and widening project is part of a larger series of road projects under Gov. Jim Justice’s Roads to Prosperity highway program to improve traffic flow on Interstate 64 between Charleston and Huntington.
Work on the bridges and widening project is expected to be complete in October 2023. The project is part of a much larger Interstate 64 improvement project funded through Roads to Prosperity.
A $61.6 million project to completely reconstruct Interstate 64 between Milton and the US 35 interchange was finished in November 2018.
Another piece of the total picture, the upgrading Interstate 64 to six lanes between the Barboursville exit and the 29th Street exit, is scheduled for completion in August 2024. This $103.8 million project also includes replacing several bridges.
“We’re continuing the widening on I-64 through the Huntington area to reduce congestion and improve safety,” Musick said.
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!”