Interstate 70 (I-70) is a portion of the Interstate Highway System that runs from near Cove Fort, Utah, at a junction with Interstate 15 to Baltimore, Maryland. It crosses the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia through Ohio County and the city of Wheeling. This segment is the shortest of all states' through which I-70 passes, crossing West Virginia in only 14.45 miles (23.26 km). The longest segment is Colorado's, which measures 451.04 miles (725.88 km). The Fort Henry Bridge carries I-70 from Wheeling Island across the Ohio River and into downtown Wheeling before the freeway enters the Wheeling Tunnel. I-470, a southerly bypass of Wheeling and the lone auxiliary Interstate Highway in West Virginia, is intersected near Elm Grove. Before crossing into Pennsylvania, I-70 passes The Highlands, a major shopping center in the panhandle, and the Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area. On average, between 27,000 and 53,000 vehicles use the freeway every day.

Interstate 70 marker

Interstate 70
Location of I-70 (in red) in West Virginia
Route information
Maintained by WVDOH
Length14.45 mi[2] (23.26 km)
Major junctions
West end I-70 at Ohio state line
East end I-70 at Pennsylvania state line
Highway system
WV 69WV 71

The first road that entered Wheeling was a post road completed in 1794 that connected Wheeling to Morgantown. The National Road was the first interstate road, completed in 1818, that connected Wheeling to Cumberland, Maryland. When the United States Numbered Highway System was created in 1926, the National Road was designated U.S. Route 40. The I-70 designation was brought to the Northern Panhandle with the passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, and it was built as a controlled-access highway, bypassing portions of the old National Road. The first portions of I-70 in West Virginia were opened in 1963, and construction was completed in 1971.

Route descriptionEdit

Entering West Virginia from Ohio, I-70 crosses the western channel of the Ohio River onto Wheeling Island, the most populated island along the Ohio River.[3] The freeway passes above a light commercial zone, and has an interchange with Zane Street. US 40 and US 250 become concurrent with I-70 at this interchange, before traveling east toward the Fort Henry Bridge.[4] The bridge crosses the main channel of the river and the Greater Wheeling Trail, a rail trail that parallels the eastern banks of the river.[5] Elevated above the city of Wheeling, a complex interchange provides access to the downtown area and Benwood. Traveling eastbound, US 40 departs the freeway at this interchange and becomes concurrent with West Virginia Route 2 (WV 2) northbound. US 40 and WV 2 travel through downtown Wheeling on a one-way pair, the southbound lanes passing under I-70 and the northbound lanes passing over I-70.[4] After the interchange, I-70 enters the approximately 14-mile-long (400 m) Wheeling Tunnel which passes through Wheeling Hill.[6] Immediately east of the tunnel, a directional T interchange provides access to WV 2 southbound near homes north of the highway. US 250 departs I-70 at this interchange. A stub ramp present at this interchange would have carried WV 2 north of I-70 had it been extended.[4]

An overview of Wheeling Hill

As I-70 curves to the south, it intersects US 40 and WV 88 with the ramps from the eastbound lanes of US 40 and WV 88 crossing underneath I-70, parallel to Wheeling Creek. The interchange just west of the Wheeling Tunnel and this interchange are complicated by the fact that both are abutted by hills. Wheeling Jesuit University's southeastern border is formed by the freeway as I-70 approaches the neighborhood of Elm Grove. Washington Avenue provides access to the college as the highway continues south before meeting the eastern terminus of I-470, which is a bypass of Wheeling and the only auxiliary interstate highway in West Virginia.[4][7] Between the directional T interchange and I-470, I-70 is paralleled by the eastern branch of the Greater Wheeling Trail.[5] A final interchange within Wheeling city limits provides access to US 40 and WV 88. Leaving the city, the highway turns further east and enters a deep valley.[4] The highway climbs over Two-Mile Hill,[8] and intersects Cabela Drive (County Route 65), which provides access to The Highlands, a large shopping destination.[4][9] Past The Highlands, I-70 continues northeast though woodlands to an interchange with the Dallas Pike (County Route 41). I-70 passes north of the Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area before crossing the Pennsylvania state line into Washington County southwest of West Alexander.[4][10]

Out of the ten states I-70 passes through, the 14.45-mile-long (23.26 km) segment in West Virginia is the shortest. By comparison, the longest stretch of I-70 through a single state is the 451.04-mile-long (725.88 km) segment in Colorado.[2] Every year, the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) conducts a series of surveys on its highways in the state to measure traffic volume. This is expressed in terms of annual average daily traffic (AADT), a measure of traffic volume for any average day of the year. In 2012, WVDOT calculated that as few as 27,000 vehicles traveled over the Fort Henry Bridge over the Ohio River, and as many as 53,000 vehicles used the highway near its junction with US 40 in Elm Grove.[11] These counts are of the portion of the freeway in West Virginia and are not reflective of the entire Interstate. As part of the Interstate Highway System,[12] the entire route is listed on the National Highway System, a system of roads that are important to the nation's economy, defense, and mobility.[13]


I-70 westbound near the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University

The first recorded road to reach what was then Wheeling, Virginia, was a post road linking it with Morgantown, to the southeast. The post road was completed in 1794. The National Road was the first interstate road that served Wheeling, linking the town to Cumberland, Maryland, in the east. The National Road started construction under order of then President Thomas Jefferson in 1806 and was completed in 1818.[14][15] In 1926 the United States Numbered Highway System was established, and the National Road through the Northern Panhandle was designated US 40.[16] US 40 linked Vallejo, California, in the west to Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the east.[17] Passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 formed the Interstate Highway System,[18] designating as I-70 a then unconstructed controlled-access highway across the panhandle by 1957.[19] Since it was constructed as a separate controlled-access highway, much of I-70 is separate from the old National Road and US 40.[4]

View west along I-70 in Wheeling, just after the interchange with I-470

The first portion of what is now known as I-70 to be completed across West Virginia was the Fort Henry Bridge across the main channel of the Ohio River, built in 1955.[20] WVDOT began obtaining right-of-way for I-70 in 1961.[21] The Wheeling Tunnel, linking downtown Wheeling and the Fort Henry Bridge to the eastern suburb of Elm Grove, was completed in 1967[22] at a cost of $7 million (equivalent to $41 million in 2018).[23][1] The bridge that carries I-70 from the Ohio state line onto Wheeling Island was completed in 1968.[24] Construction of I-70 across the panhandle was almost completed in September 1971, with only one of the two carriageways completed in the final one-and-a-fifth-mile-long (1,900 m) segment of freeway near Elm Grove.[25] Then Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr. and Senator Jennings Randolph were present for the opening of this $17 million (equivalent to $82.4 million in 2018)[23] portion of freeway.[26] The second carriageway was completed by the end of 1971.[15]

The Fort Henry Bridge, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge (which carries I-470), and the Wheeling Suspension Bridge were all closed in January 2005, stopping any traffic from Ohio or Wheeling Island from entering mainland West Virginia for a few days because barges broke loose during heavy flooding along the Ohio River.[27] The Wheeling Tunnel was closed for reconstruction work in 2007,[28] 2008,[29] and 2010,[30] causing motorists who wished to travel through on I-70 to detour. The two detour routes were city streets in downtown Wheeling and the I-470 loop.[29]

After traffic issues during the 2008 reconstruction work on the Wheeling Tunnel, local politicians suggested closing the twin tunnels altogether and building the freeway over Wheeling Hill instead.[31] After opposition from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which represented the affected Wheeling Hill residents,[32] the suggestions were dropped. The cost of completing the tunnel replacement project was estimated at between $60 and $80 million.[33] The total $13.7 million cost of the tunnel reconstruction project was over double the original bid of $5.7 million, due in part to the work delays.[34]

Exit listEdit

The entire route is in Ohio County. [35]

Ohio River0.00.0Ohio–West Virginia state line
  I-70 west continues into Ohio
Wheeling Island0.30.480   US 40 west / US 250 north (Zane Street) – Wheeling IslandWest end of US 40 / US 250 overlap; westbound exit and eastbound entrance
Ohio River0.50.80Fort Henry Bridge
Wheeling0.71.11A   US 40 east / WV 2 north (Main Street) – Downtown WheelingEast end of US 40 overlap
Wheeling Tunnel
1.32.11B   US 250 south to WV 2 south – South Wheeling, MoundsvilleEast end of US 250 overlap
1.93.12A   US 40 to WV 88 north – Oglebay Park
2.64.22B  CR 701 (Washington Avenue)Access to Wheeling Jesuit University
4.57.24  WV 88 south (US 40) – Elm GroveWestbound exit is via exit 5
4.87.75A  I‑470 west – ColumbusWestbound exit and eastbound entrance
5.38.55  US 40 – Elm Grove, TriadelphiaWestbound access to WV 88
9.515.310  CR 65 (Cabela Drive)Access to The Highlands shopping complex
10.917.511  CR 41 (Dallas Pike)
 14.4523.26West Virginia–Pennsylvania state line
  I-70 east continues into Pennsylvania
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b "West Virginia Plans Major I-70 Projects". The Washington Observer. Washington, Pennsylvania. February 4, 1963. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Adderly, Kevin (January 19, 2012). "Table 1: Main Routes of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System Of Interstate and Defense Highways". FHWA Route Log and Finder List. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  3. ^ Hay, Jerry M. (2008). Ohio River Guidebook. Inland Waterways Books. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-60585-217-1. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Google (January 23, 2011). "Interstate 70 in West Virginia" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (January 2007). Rail-Trails Mid-Atlantic: Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC and West Virginia. Wilderness Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-89997-427-9. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
  6. ^ Weingroff, Richard (1998). "Part VII: Miscellaneous Interstate Facts". Highway History. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  7. ^ Staff (October 31, 2002). "Table 3: Interstate Routes in Each of the 50 States, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico". Route Log and Finder List. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  8. ^ Junkins, Casey (July 20, 2007). "Five-Vehicle Crash Closes Interstate 70". Wheeling News-Register. Archived from the original on February 4, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  9. ^ Novotney, Steve (July 13, 2006). "The Highlands Still on Track to Be 'Destination Location'". Huntington, W. Va.: WOWK-TV. Archived from the original on February 4, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  10. ^ Wildlife Resources Section (2003). "West Virginia Wildlife Management Areas". West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  11. ^ I-70: Ohio to Pennsylvania (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. West Virginia Department of Transportation. 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 17, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  12. ^ Slater, Rodney E. (Spring 1996). "The National Highway System: A Commitment to America's Future". Public Roads. 59 (4). Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  13. ^ National Highway System: West Virginia (PDF) (Map). 2.5 in ≈ 40 mi (6.4 cm ≈ 64.4 km). Federal Highway Administration. October 1, 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  14. ^ Hoch, Bradley R. (August 1, 2001). Lincoln Trail in Pennsylvania: A History and Guide. University Park, Pa.: Penn State Press. p. 163. ISBN 978-0-271-05841-2. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  15. ^ a b Staff (January 1998). As a Matter of Fact. West Virginia Division of Highways. pp. I‑2, II‑8. OCLC 45763179.
  16. ^ Spencer-Smith, Susan (April 10, 1988). "Old And New In West Virginia Wheeling Pegs Its Future To A Remarkable Supply Of Victorian-Style Buildings". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved December 13, 2013 – via ProQuest.
  17. ^ United States System of Highways Adopted for Uniform Marking by the American Association of State Highway Officials (Map). 1:7,000,000. Cartography by U.S. Geological Survey. Bureau of Public Roads. November 11, 1926. OCLC 32889555. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  18. ^ Lewis, Tom (1997). Divided Highways: Building the Interstate Highways, Transforming American Life. New York: Viking. pp. 120–1, 136–7. ISBN 0-670-86627-X.
  19. ^ Official Route Numbering for the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways as Adopted by the American Association of State Highway Officials (Map). Scale not given. Cartography by Public Roads Administration. Public Roads Administration. August 14, 1957. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  20. ^ Federal Highway Administration (2012). "NBI Structure Number: 00000000035A061". National Bridge Inventory. Federal Highway Administration.
  21. ^ Staff (December 9, 1961). "Plans For 70 Right-Of-Way Given by SRC". Charleston Daily Mail. Associated Press. p. 8.
  22. ^ Terry, Bob (June 18, 1967). "Free-Wheeling, W.Va". The New York Times. p. 368. Retrieved December 13, 2013 – via ProQuest.
  23. ^ a b Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2019). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved April 6, 2019. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  24. ^ Federal Highway Administration (2012). "NBI Structure Number: 00000000035A059". National Bridge Inventory. Federal Highway Administration.
  25. ^ Mellace, Bob (September 4, 1971). "Governor Sees Little Need For Major Tax Hike". Charleston Daily Mail. p. 1.
  26. ^ Staff (August 30, 1971). "Interstate 70 Link To Open". Weirton Daily Times. United Press International. p. 3.
  27. ^ Schelzig, Erik (January 7, 2005). "West Virginia Governor Declares State of Emergency Due to Flood". Kentucky New Era. Hopkinsville, Ky. Associated Press. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  28. ^ Connors, Fred (October 27, 2007). "Ready or Not, Tunnel to Open". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. Archived from the original on February 4, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  29. ^ a b "Motorists Warned to Avoid Wheeling Tunnel". Harrisonburg, Va.: WHSV-TV. July 23, 2008. Archived from the original on February 4, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  30. ^ Johnson, J.W., Jr. (February 2, 2010). "Tube Closed Until October". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. Archived from the original on February 4, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  31. ^ Connors, Fred (January 6, 2008). "Tunnel Removal Good Idea, But Not Feasible". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  32. ^ Connors, Fred (March 12, 2008). "NAACP Takes Issue With Tunnel Cut Plan". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  33. ^ Lo, Jasmine (February 19, 2008). "Talk Of Eliminating Wheeling Tunnels Moves Forward". Steubenville, Ohio: WTOV. Archived from the original on February 4, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  34. ^ Staff (June 26, 2010). "Answer Tunnel Cost Questions". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  35. ^ General Highway Map: Ohio County, West Virginia (PDF) (Map). 1 in ≈ 1 mi (1 cm ≈ 0.633 km). West Virginia County Maps. West Virginia Department of Transportation. January 1, 2011. § C3-E3. Retrieved December 20, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  36. ^ Staff. "West Virginia Interstate 70 Interchanges". West Virginia Department of Transportation. Retrieved December 12, 2013.

External linksEdit

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata

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