The Eugene A. Carter Memorial Bridge carries Interstate 64 and US Route 119 across the Kanawha River in downtown Charleston, West Virginia. Originally named Fort Hill Bridge after the adjoining hill, the crossing was renamed after Eugene A. Carter in 2005. Carter helped form the first local Teamsters Union.
The construction of Interstate 64 through the city of Charleston was embroiled in controversy since the 1960s after the advent of the Interstate Highway System. Several alignments were considered, which included a northern beltway around the Charleston metropolitan area, a cross-downtown route, and a southern beltway through South Charleston. 12 13 From the southeast, the West Virginia Turnpike ended at Maccorkle Avenue; from the west, Interstate 64 was completed to Dunbar; from the north, Interstate 77 stopped near Sissonville.
One proposal, to bring Interstate 64 through the Triangle District just west of downtown, was an area that had been declared an urban redevelopment priority. Federal transportation secretary John Volpe stalled for months at the decision on the routing of Interstate 64 through Charleston, but by late 1971, the decision was made to route the highway through the Triangle District. The Triangle Improvement Council fought the decision to route the interstate through the neighborhood, ultimately losing the battle through a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Construction of Interstate 64 through Charleston began shortly thereafter, which required the removal of 1,000 residences, 12 major earthmoving at Fort Hill, the building of a Kanawha River crossing, the construction of two tri-level interchanges with Interstate 77 (Bigley) and US Route 119 (Fort Hill), and a viaduct through the Triangle District.
Fort Hill Bridge and Viaduct
In August 1971, the West Virginia Department of Highways (WVDOH) awarded a $930,388 contract to Mountain State Construction of South Charleston to construct 10 land piers for the Kanawha River bridge at Fort Hill. 6 WVDOH then granted a $4.86 million contract to W.P. Dickerson & Son of Youngwood, Pennsylvania in January 1972 to erect the superstructure and bridge deck of the river crossing. 9 The John F. Beasley Company of Houston assisted. 5 The project was overseen by the Foster & Creighton construction company of Nashville, Tennessee. 3
A separate $10.2 million contract was conferred to the Bates & Rogers Construction of Chicago for the construction of a six-lane viaduct through the Triangle District. 9
The new eight-lane Fort Hill Bridge was completed in May 1974. 2
The three-level junction of Interstates 64 and 77 over the Elk River and local streets, nicknamed the Bigley interchange, was constructed between 1972 and 1975 at the cost of $19 million. 7 The massive interchange, which featured more than 26 million pounds of structural steel, included several piers that were embedded in industrial warehouses because of geographical constraints.
Fort Hill Interchange
The interchange of Interstate 64 and US Route 119, over MacCorkle Avenue and the CSX Railroad at Fort Hill, was constructed by Foster & Creighton and Vecellio & Grogan of Beckley at the cost of $22.5 million. 3 4 The interchange initially connected with a 2.1-mile four-lane relocation of WV Route 214 through Ferry Branch Hollow, which was later incorporated into the completion of Corridor G and US Route 119 through the area. 8
The junction, the second most expensive project in the state’s history at that time, opened in July 1975. 10
Interstate 64 fully opened through Charleston later in the year after all work wrapped up on the Fort Hill Bridge, adjoining viaduct, and two system interchanges. 1
- State: West Virginia
- Route: Interstate 64, US Route 119
- Type: Warren Through Truss
- Status: Active - Automobile
- Total Length: 2,247 feet
- Navigational Clearance:
- Release Date Report. West Virginia Department of Transportation. August 2003.
- “Downtown Interstate Work Moving Along.” Charleston Daily Mail, 7 Mat 1974, p. 12B.
- “Sinuous Traffic Pattern of Fort Hill I-64 Span.” Charleston Daily Mail, 28 Jul. 1975, p. 7A.
- “It’s Dig, Dig, Dig for the Roadway.” Charleston Daily Mail, 17 Oct. 1973, p. 1B.
- “I-64 Beams Itself Across River.” Charleston Daily Mail, 5 Apr. 1973, p. 15B.
- “2 Contracts Let for I-64 Construction.” Charleston Daily Mail, 18 Aug. 1971, p. 11.
- “Bigley Interstate Bid $18 Million.” Charleston Daily Mail, 14 Jun. 1972, p. 17A.
- “Oakwood Guard Rails Anchored.” Charleston Daily Mail, 4 Nov. 1972, p. 5A.
- “State Awards Road Contracts.” Weirton Daily Times, 4 Jan. 1972, p. 5.
- “$22 Million Low Bid for Interchange.” Weirton Daily Times, 3 Aug. 1972, p. 8.
- Robinson, Dan. “Fort Hill, Oakwood, Carter – what do you call this bridge?” Storm Highway, 10 Jan. 2008.
- “SRC Pledges Swift Aid to Displaced.” Sunday Gazette-Mail [Charleston], 29 Mar. 1964, p. 2A.
- Morgan, John G. “Displaced.” Sunday Gazette-Mail [Charleston], 29 Mar. 1964, pp. 1A-6A.
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