CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Emergency repair work that began on the Interstate 64 Kanawha River bridge in Charleston Wednesday is designed to provide only a temporary fix until a complete overhaul of the bridge takes place next year.
The state Department of Transportation announced Wednesday afternoon it needed to begin immediate repair work on the Eugene A. Carter Memorial Bridge, which is often referred to as the Fort Hill bridge.
Department spokeswoman Carrie Bly said bridge inspectors had become concerned about some cracks and holes that had developed in the westbound lanes of the bridge.
Inspectors said the defects could pose serious problems, especially if snow crews began plowing and treating the road surface.
"If they're not patched up, then when the plow goes through there again, it's going to become a bigger problem," Bly said.
In addition to plow damage to the road surface, the rock salt used to treat the road can also pose a problem.
Should salt get through the cracks in the road, it can rust and erode the metal superstructure underneath the bridge deck.
With winter just around the corner, Bly said maintenance officials decided to shut down two lanes Wednesday evening to patch some areas. Crews are expected to shut down the two right westbound lanes some time next week.
That shutdown will include closing the Virginia Street on-ramp and Oakwood Road off-ramp on either side of the bridge.
Crews will work at night to cut down on traffic jams during the day.
But the patching is just a temporary fix.
Next year, the bridge will undergo a complete deck overhaul.