Interstate 70 in West Virginia
Location of I-70 (in red) in West Virginia
|Maintained by WVDOH|
|Length:||14.45 mi (23.26 km)|
|Existed:||1963 – present|
|West end:||I-70 at Ohio state line|
| US 250 in Wheeling
I-470 in Wheeling
|East end:||I-70 at Pennsylvania state line|
Interstate 70 (I-70) in the U.S. state of West Virginia crosses the Northern Panhandle region, through Ohio County and the city of Wheeling. As the shortest segment of I-70 in any state through which it passes, it spans 14.45 miles (23.26 km) across the panhandle. The portion of the route in West Virginia begins on a bridge between the eastern border of Ohio, over the western channel of the Ohio River, crossing onto Wheeling Island. The Fort Henry Bridge carries I-70 across the main channel of the Ohio River and onto mainland West Virginia.
The city of Wheeling sits on the eastern banks of the Ohio River, and I-70 passes over the town on an elevated structure before entering the Wheeling Tunnel. On the other side of the tunnel, the highway meets the eastern terminus of I-470, a bypass of Wheeling. Before the highway crosses into Pennsylvania, I-70 passes The Highlands, a major shopping center in the panhandle. The first portions of the freeway were opened in 1963, and construction was completed in 1971. On average, between 32,000 and 60,000 vehicles use the freeway every day.
I-70 enters West Virginia from Ohio by crossing the western channel of the Ohio River onto Wheeling Island. The freeway passes above a light commercial zone as U.S. Route 40 (US 40) and US 250 become concurrent with I-70 as it travels east toward the Fort Henry Bridge. The bridge crosses the main channel of the river and the main branch of the Greater Wheeling Trail, a rail trail that parallels the eastern banks of the river. Elevated above the city, a complex interchange provides access to downtown Wheeling and Benwood. Traveling eastbound US 40 departs the freeway at this interchange and becomes concurrent with West Virginia Route 2 (WV 2) northbound. The intersected highways travel through downtown Wheeling on a one-way pair, with the southbound lanes passing under the freeway and the northbound lanes passing over the freeway. After the interchange, I-70 enters the approximately 1⁄4-mile (400 m) long Wheeling Tunnel which passes through Wheeling Hill. Immediately east of the tunnel, a trumpet interchange provides access to US 250 and WV 2 southbound near some homes north of the highway. Traveling east, US 250 leaves I-70 at this interchange, which is the first non-elevated portion of the freeway.
As I-70 curves to the south, it intersects US 40 and WV 88. The ramps from the eastbound lanes crossing underneath I-70, parallel to Wheeling Creek. The interchange just west of the Wheeling Tunnel and this interchange are complicated due to the fact that both are abutted by hills. Wheeling Jesuit University's southeastern border is formed by the freeway as I-70 approaches the neighborhood of Elm Grove. Washington Avenue provides access to the college as the highway continues south before meeting the eastern terminus of I-470, which is a bypass of Wheeling. Between the trumpet interchange and I-470, I-70 is paralleled by the eastern branch of the Greater Wheeling Trail. A final interchange within Wheeling city limits provides access to US 40 and WV 88. Leaving the city, the highway turns further east and enters a deep valley. The highway climbs over Two-Mile Hill, and intersects Cabela Drive (County Route 65), which provides access to The Highlands, a large shopping destination. Past The Highlands, I-70 continues northeast though woodlands to an interchange with the Dallas Pike (County Route 41) before crossing the state line into Washington County southwest of West Alexander, Pennsylvania.
Out of the ten states I-70 passes through, the 14.45-mile (23.26 km) long segment in West Virginia is the shortest. By comparison, the longest stretch of I-70 through a single state is the 451.04-mile (725.88 km) long segment in Colorado. Every year, the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) conducts a series of surveys on its highways in the state to measure traffic volume. This is expressed in terms of average annual daily traffic (AADT), which is a measure of traffic volume for any average day of the year. In 2012, WVDOT calculated that as few as 27,000 vehicles traveled over the Fort Henry Bridge over the Ohio River, and as many as 53,000 vehicles used the highway near its junction with US 40 in Elm Grove. As part of the Interstate Highway System, the entire route is listed on the National Highway System, a system of roads that are important to the nation's economy, defense, and mobility.
The first recorded road that reached then Wheeling, Virginia was a post road linking Wheeling southeast to Morgantown. The post road was completed in 1794. The National Road was the first interstate road that served Wheeling, linking the town to Cumberland, Maryland in the east. The National Road was completed to Wheeling in 1818. In 1926 the United States Numbered Highways system was established, and the National Road through the Northern Panhandle was designated US 40. US 40 linked Vallejo, California in the west to Atlantic City, New Jersey in the east. Passage of the Federal-aid Highway Act and the Highway Revenue Act of 1956 brought the Interstate Highway System to West Virginia, and the I-70 designator was first designated to a then unconstructed highway across the panhandle.
Portions of I-70 across the Northern Panhandle had been completed by 1963; however, at that time, the link to Pennsylvania had not been completed. At the western end of I-70, the bridge that carries the freeway from the Ohio state line to Wheeling Island was constructed in 1968, while the Fort Henry Bridge across the main channel was built in 1955. The two tunnels that form the Wheeling Tunnel were estimated to cost a total of $7 million, and were completed in 1967. Construction on the freeway across the panhandle was completed in 1971.
The Wheeling Tunnel was closed for reconstruction work in 2007, 2008, and 2010, causing travelers who wished to travel through on I-70 to detour. The two detour routes included using city streets through downtown Wheeling or by using the I-470 loop. After traffic issues during the reconstruction work on the Wheeling Tunnel in 2008, local politicians suggested closing the twin tunnels altogether and building the freeway over Wheeling Hill instead. After opposition from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which was representing residents who live on Wheeling Hill and other groups, the suggestions were dropped. Estimates put the cost of the project between $60 and $80 million to complete. The total cost of the tunnel reconstruction project was over double the original bid, totaling $13.7 million, due to the numerous delays.
The entire route is in Ohio County.
|Ohio River||0.0||0.0||Ohio – West Virginia state line
Continues into Ohio as Interstate 70 in Ohio
|Wheeling Island||0.3||0.5||0||US 40 west / US 250 north (Zane Street) – Wheeling Island||West end of US 40 / US 250 overlap; westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|Ohio River||0.5||0.8||Fort Henry Bridge|
|Wheeling||0.7||1.1||1A||US 40 east / WV 2 north (Main Street) – Downtown Wheeling||East end of US 40 overlap|
|1.3||2.1||1B||US 250 south to WV 2 south – South Wheeling, Moundsville||East end of US 250 overlap|
|1.9||3.1||2A||US 40 to WV 88 north – Oglebay Park|
|2.6||4.2||2B||Washington Avenue||Access to Wheeling Jesuit University|
|4.5||7.2||4||WV 88 south (US 40) – Elm Grove||Westbound exit is via exit 5|
|4.8||7.7||5A||I-470 west – Columbus||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|5.3||8.5||5||US 40 – Elm Grove, Triadelphia||Westbound access to WV 88|
|9.5||15.3||10||CR 65 (Cabela Drive)||Access to The Highlands shopping complex|
|10.9||17.5||11||CR 41 (Dallas Pike)|
|14.45||23.26||West Virginia – Pennsylvania state line
Continues into Pennsylvania as Interstate 70 in Pennsylvania
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
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- "As a Matter of Fact..." (PDF). West Virginia Division of Highways. 1997. pp. I–2. Retrieved February 19, 2011.
- United States Department of Agriculture (1926). United States System of Highways (Map). http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1926us.jpg. Retrieved February 5, 2011.
- Staff (2012). "NBI Structure Number: 00000000035A059". National Bridge Inventory. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- Staff (2012). "NBI Structure Number: 00000000035A061". National Bridge Inventory. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- Terry, Bob (June 18, 1967). "Free-Wheeling, W.Va.". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 4, 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
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- Connors, Fred (October 27, 2007). "Ready or Not, Tunnel to Open". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. Archived from the original on February 4, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "Motorists Warned to Avoid Wheeling Tunnel". WHSV-TV. July 23, 2008. Archived from the original on February 4, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- Johnson, Jr., J.W. (February 2, 2010). "Tube Closed Until October". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. Archived from the original on February 4, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- Connors, Fred (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.
- Lo, Jasmine (February 19, 2008). "Talk Of Eliminating Wheeling Tunnels Moves Forward". WTOV. Archived from the original on February 4, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "Answer Tunnel Cost Questions". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. June 26, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "West Virginia Interstate 70 Interchanges". West Virginia Department of Transportation. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
- Media related to Interstate 70 in West Virginia at Wikimedia Commons
- Interstate 70 in West Virginia on AA Roads
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