New observation deck opens in Steubenville

STEUBENVILLE – The new Ohio River observation deck, born out of the demolition of the Fort Steuben Bridge, is officially open to the public.

The observation deck was the idea of Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci after the Ohio Department of Transportation announced plans to remove the bridge in February 2012.

The pier near the Ohio shoreline is all that remains of the 83-year-old bridge that was demolished by the Joseph B. Fay Co. of Russelton, Pa., in a series of controlled explosive blasts. The bridge originally ran from Ohio to Freedom Way in Weirton.

“When ODOT announced they were planning to close the bridge and then take it down, a number of local residents and elected officials on both sides of the Ohio River protested the decision. But once ODOT made the final decision, we were able to negotiate an award of $50,000 from ODOT for the city of Steubenville because our city marina was going to be closed during the demolition and cleanup work,” Mucci related.

“We were then able to use that $50,000 from the state to leverage another $200,000 from the Federal Highway Administration and had the state agree to save this final bridge pier. This pier is a part of the long history of the Fort Steuben Bridge and we wanted to use the pier for the base of a new observation deck,” Mucci said.

“Now the city owns the observation deck and I believe it will become an excellent attraction at the Ohio River and quite possibly the groundwork for future development at our city marina. And the city did not have to pay one penny for the construction of this new observation deck,” added Mucci.

“This is a new addition to our recreation in the city and a key quality of life issue. I hope we will see more improvements at the marina in the near future,” Mucci remarked.

He i said the money could only be used for the deck project.

“We would like to create paved parking in the area under the existing bridge, provide a handicap accessible fishing pier on the Ohio shore and install benches, railing, lights and trash receptacles at the marina,” said Mucci.

City Engineer Michael Dolak said the James White Construction Co. won the bid for the $200,000 construction work.

“The pier was shaved down and a concrete deck was placed on top of the pier. The contractor then built a very solid and secure pedestrian walkway from the Ohio shore to the deck area. There is plenty of room for visitors at the observation deck. I imagine we will see people fishing from the deck or bringing chairs to the deck where they can sit and relax and watch river traffic or just enjoy the atmosphere,” said Dolak.

“We were also able to grade the parking lot area near the observation deck and repave it. There is more work to be done at the marina but this is a good start,” Dolak commented.

City Manager Tim Boland also expressed his excitement about the new observation deck and called it, “a wonderful addition to the city.”

“This will definitely offer more opportunities for area residents and offers something other communities don’t have. We are on the Ohio River and need to take advantage of that resource,” stated Boland.