I-64 Improvement — Kanawha River Bridge

I-64 Kanawha River bridge

I-64 Improvement — Kanawha River Bridge

The $224 million I-64 Widening and Improvement Project will upgrade a 4-mile section of I-64 in Putnam County, West Virginia, between the U.S. 35 interchange to the west and the Nitro interchange to the east. The project will provide six lanes for traffic and adds a new major river crossing that will feature the longest-span steel plate girder bridge in the United States.

HDR is the engineer for the contractor and is responsible for permitting, stakeholder coordination and complete design services for the roadway and bridges. We also designed the traffic control and staging of the structures to maintain four lanes of interstate traffic throughout construction.

Delivered via design-build, the project:

  • Constructs a new second bridge over the Kanawha River for westbound I-64 traffic (parallel to the existing bridge), and then replaces the superstructure of the existing Donald M. Legg Memorial Bridge to carry eastbound I-64 traffic
  • Widens 4 miles of interstate from four to six lanes
  • Reconstructs the St. Albans interchange to include flyover ramps using curved steel plate girder structures, making it a new tri-level interchange, eliminating a stop sign and crossing traffic
  • Replaces four other steel plate girder structures along the mainline
  • Provides ongoing communication to the public, including maintaining the project website
  • Required a robust transportation management plan to evaluate temporary conditions and detours
Aerial image of the I-64 - St. Albans interchange
The reconstructed St. Albans interchange.

New River Crossing

Existing two-way traffic on I-64 is carried on a truss bridge, the Donald M. Legg Memorial Bridge. This project adds a parallel long-span plate girder structure that will temporarily carry two-way traffic, allowing the existing truss bridge to have its superstructure replaced as a plate girder bridge. In final configuration, eastbound and westbound traffic will each have its own dedicated long-span plate girder structure — westbound on the new bridge and eastbound on the refurbished bridge. The new river bridges have been designed for a 100-year service life.

The new Kanawha River Bridge is a dual three-span steel plate girder bridge with a 562-foot main span and two side spans (380- and 390-feet in length). Each of the parallel structures is 65-feet 2-inches wide to accommodate six lanes of mainline traffic along with two lanes for ramp traffic. The piers of the existing bridge are being reused, so their placement set the span length for both bridges, defined by the navigation channel of the Kanawha River.

The chosen design of a plate girder bridge offers an efficient structure type for the bridge span, ideal for design-build delivery, and ideal for the owner because of more straightforward details to inspect and maintain during the life of the structure. We performed higher-level analyses on the plate girder design due to the record-setting length including analyses for wind stability, thermal gradient, and dynamic live loads. The design used bottom lateral bracing to increase aeroelastic stability during and after construction which allowed the design-build team to take advantage of bottom lateral bracing for increased girder bending resistance in 3D analysis.

New Kanawha River Bridge, with previous bridge in background

The I-64 Kanawha River Bridge sets the record as the longest-span steel plate girder bridge in the United States, with its 562-foot main span. It is the second record-setting bridge that HDR has designed in West Virginia in the past decade following the Shenandoah River Bridge Delta Frame, which was the largest of its type as well. Our history of designing bridges for the West Virginia dates back over 75 years.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2024.

I-64 Kanawha River bridge
Brayman Construction & Trumbull, West Virginia Department of Transportation

Putnam County, WV
United States

1,425 feet, with 562-foot main span