Questions, How long does it take to drive through and can you see through the tunnel from end to end
I believe the firm Richardson, Gordon and Associates is based in Pittsburgh, not New York as stated in a previous comment.
This sure brings back memories.Hope they get it fixed
The Wheeling Tunnel allows I-70 to pass below a ridge that runs parallel to the Ohio River that separates the river front from the rest of the city.
It carries and average of 44,000 vehicles per day.
There are 928 lights in the tunnel, which we'll come back to later. There is an abandoned coal mine above the tunnel.
The tunnel was proposed in 1956 as a part of the Federal Highway Act, which built the Interstate Highway System. The tunnel was planned for the rerouting of US 40. (Later on, US 40 remained the National Road and Interstate 70 was assigned to the tunnel.) The Federal Highway Act provided 90% of the construction cost while West Virginia was responsible for the last 10%. ("Wheeling Intelligencer," September 26, 1956.)
The New York consulting firm of Richardson, Gordon and Associates was hired to design the tunnel. ("Wheeling News-Register," November 5, 1956.)
The idea of a tunnel under Wheeling Hill was proposed as far back as 1892 but was never undertaken. Ground was broken on August 22, 1963 and the first tube was punched through on April 7, 1964. The tunnel opened on December 12, 1966. New, high-pressure sodium lights were intstalled in 1991 at a cost of $2.5 Million. ("Wheeling Intelligencer," July 3, 1991.)
Safety has been an issue for years. In 2001, darkness in the tunnel was a constant complaint, even with the lights that had been upgraded in 1991. Bob Whip, District Engineer with the West Virginia Division of Highways reported that the tubes are washed twice a year. A fatal crash in May of 2001 was a concern to all of Wheeling. Vernon Seals, a Wheeling City Councilman, was referring to safety issues in the tunnel when he said, "Another major catastrophe waiting to happen." ("Wheeling Intelligencer," July 6, 2001.)
The eastbound tunnel was closed for refurbishing in January 2007. The task was to be completed in time for Memorial Day. It wasn't. It was rescheduled to open November 1. It didn't.
The westbound tunnel is scheduled to be refurbished upon completion of the eastbound tunnel. Local citizens want the lights brighter, but that is not part of the refurbishment contract, however, the 928 light bulbs are scheduled to be replaced.
UPDATE: The eastbound tube of the Wheeling Tunnel opened at 4:30 PM on Thursday, Nov 15 even though the renovations were not completed. The project was five months past its May 8 deadline, over budget and incomplete. Bids will be let for completion of the project, scheduled for next Spring.
Less than 48 hours after opening, the tube was closed again to repair damage caused when a manhole cover broke into three pieces.
The tubes remain open as of this posting.