CHESTER - Drivers will no longer be seeing orange when they cross the Jennings Randolph Bridge.
Early Monday afternoon, crews collected the last of the construction barrels and signs and traffic was able to return to four lanes.
"As far as the painting contract, that is complete," project engineer Joe Juszczak said.
The bridge-painting project began in March, when workers from North Star Painting Company of Youngstown covered the previously cream-colored bridge with protective canvas.
When the canvas was removed, drivers were greeted with an iron gray bridge to match Ohio-owned bridges that were painted iron gray several years ago.
"The color was chosen just to match the Ohio approaches so it looked more uniform," Juszczak said.
The project was the first time the bridge had been painted since it was built in the late 1970s.
Juszczak stated previously the paint is meant to last 30 to 40 years depending on various factors.
Prior to painting the bridge, North Star Painting power washed and sandblasted the existing paint. After the main project was complete, the crew then set to work painting the smaller parts of the bridge.
Juszczak stated that a man who fell from the bridge into safety netting in July is doing just fine.
"The guy who fell was out of the hospital probably a couple days later, he had a dislocated ankle and a dislocated shoulder," he said.
The worker fell approximately 20 feet from a part of the bridge that is an estimated 1,500 feet from the Chester off-ramp.
Juszczak stated that though the painting project is complete, drivers should expect temporary lane closures this week because of an annual bridge inspection.
"This week they'll probably see some temporary lane closures because of the annual inspection of the bridge, but that has nothing to do with the painting project," he said.
At a Chester City Council meeting Monday, Chester Mayor Ken Morris stated that a part of the "Welcome to West Virginia" sign on the bridge was broken off and a light had been broken.
"I believe that (Police) Chief (Ken) Thorn talked to Joe (Juszczak) and the state is going to come down and fix that," Morris said of the sign.
Del. Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, got the project started when he wrote a letter four years ago to both Governor Joe Manchin and Paul Mattox, secretary of the West Virginia Division of Highways, explaining the need for the bridge to receive some much-needed maintenance.
"It was something that I was very passionate about, it was a reflection of both Chester and East Liverpool and it was getting to be an eyesore," Swartzmiller said of the bridge.
Swartzmiller stated that he was glad to have a Northern Panhandle native as the engineer in charge of the painting project.
"We were very blessed to get Joe Juszczak as the project engineer on that, you know, a Chester hometown boy," Swartzmiller said. "He did a great job in getting the project completed and keeping it on time."
(Matsick can be contacted at email@example.com)