Major project planned to widen I-64 at Nitro/St. Albans Bridge

NITRO, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A major project will completely change the flow of traffic on Interstate 64 across the Nitro/St. Albans Bridge.

A $224 million project will add a second bridge across the Kanawha River between Nitro and St. Albans and repair the current bridge. In total, there will be 10 lanes in an area that drivers refer to as the bottleneck.

The $224 million project announced Friday by Gov. Jim Justice and the Department of Highways will build a new six-lane bridge and refurbish the existing four-lane bridge.

This area is commonly known as "the bottleneck" by drivers as it currently takes six lanes of traffic down to four to get across the bridge, causing hour-long delays for drivers during the morning and evening commutes.

"Traffic backs up and you've got big trucks getting on and off because there is a lot of industry in this area," Ladonna Rowsey said. "With a lot of trucking going on, and they definitely need to do something."

Rowsey drives this stretch of I-64 from Hurricane to Nitro twice per day, five days per week for work. She said her drive often takes more than 45 minutes because of the traffic.

"It's crazy! It really and truthfully is," St. Albans Mayor Scott James said about the traffic. "Even on the back roads, a lot of people don't travel the interstate, they come through (Route) 60 in St Albans. It's unbelievable the traffic that we get in the mornings and the evenings coming from Charleston or going into Charleston."

James said the traffic will only get worse during the project, but he's hopeful the highway's new entrance and exit ramps bring more people and business to St. Albans.

"Between Huntington and Charleston, could give us so many possibilities as far as potential manufacturing," Gov. Jim Justice said. "It's absolutely critical as far as a safety standpoint, but from a standpoint of just so much traffic and so much congestion, you have to do something about it."

The project is part of the West Virginia Roads to Prosperity project that looks to connect urban and rural communities. Some $20 million of the project's funds will come from a federal grant supported by Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito.

The project is already in the design phase, and officials hope to break ground next spring and be completed by October 2023.