Re: (WV) [Wheeling] Wheeling Tunnel news, work hits snag

W.Va. Courts Tile Makers
Intelligencer [Wheeling]

WHEELING - An article last week in the Wheeling newspapers about
German-made tile being used to reline the Wheeling Tunnel has prompted
the West Virginia Development Office to investigate the possibility of
bringing an industrial grade tile manufacturer into the state.

Steve Spence, executive director of WVDO and director of the agency's
International Division, said, "At this point it is in the idea stage
and may go nowhere, but anytime we see news reports that may have
development opportunities, we take a look at it."

The article reported the 13,000 square feet of replacement tile that
will be used to reline the tunnel is coming from Germany, apparently
because no American manufacturer can produce the product within a
necessary time frame.

Bob Langen, area engineer for the West Virginia Division of Highways,
District 6, said, ''The German manufacturer is the only one that could
provide the type of tile we need within the time we need it.''

He said a California-based company makes the product, but it needs six
months from the time the tile is ordered.

''The (repair) bid was let out to The Velotta Co. on Nov. 27, but they
can't wait six months for tile to be delivered,'' Langen said.

Spence said, "We frequently find that if a company is selling products
in the United States out of Europe or Japan, the next step could very
well be that they manufacture the product in the United States. We
want to encourage them to consider West Virginia as a location to do

WVDO maintains a European office in Munich, Germany, and an Asian
office in Nagoya, Japan.

According to Spence, the state does not limit its efforts to
attracting foreign businesses.

''If a California company has a six-month backlog they may find that,
with a plant in West Virginia, they would be able to deliver to the
East Coast in two months,'' he said.

"The manufacturer had to run some tests to make sure it meets our
specifications," Langen said.

He said the tile must be 4 1/4 inches square and 0.46 of an inch
thick. It has a lug-type rough surface on the back to ensure
adhesiveness, and it must have a hard glaze finish that will not wear
off>= All the tile also must be uniform in color.

''It is industrial tile,'' Langen said, ''and it's heavier than what
you would put in your bathroom.''

He said the tile must withstand years of power washing and maintenance

This is the first time all the tile has been replaced since the tunnel
opened on Dec. 7, 1966, Langen said.

''The original tile was made by a company in Cleveland, but it is no
longer in business,'' he added.