Fire damaged Bartow bridge under repair

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Two years ago in July, a Petroleum Carriers, LLC, tanker truck carrying 7,800 gallons of diesel fuel was traveling Route 29 north in Bartow when it turned onto its right side and skidded to a halt on the bridge at the intersection of routes 250/92/28.

The contents of the tanker ignited into a fireball which was visible for miles, and fuel spilled into the East Fork of the Greenbrier River.

The bridge’s north-bound lane suffered the most damage and was closed to traffic in order for the Department of Highways to assess the stability of the bridge.

DOH district engineer James Rossi said DOH bridge engineer and bridge inspectors, as well as inspectors with a consulting firm hired by Petroleum Carrier, LLC, inspected the bridge and evaluated the structural integrity of the bridge.

“What we determined was that as far as what is called the superstructure – the beams that hold the decking, the concrete decking – were not damaged by the fire,” Rossi said. “Then we assessed the damage, listed the damage and that repair work is what is going on now.

“There were numerous individuals who are highly qualified in bridge analysis and structural analysis that reviewed this bridge and that’s what we determined [the superstructure was not damaged],” he continued. “We had concrete damage to some of the abutment and the wing walls. The wing walls come off up and down stream as some scour protection to ensure that water doesn’t get behind and wash the bridge out. We had modified latex concrete overlay on the deck and the fire did damage that.”

While the bridge did suffer some damage, the main structure is sound, which allows the DOH to repair the bridge instead of building a new one.

Crews are currently working on the bridge and traffic has been reduced to one lane at this time. Temporary stoplights have been installed to direct traffic.

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