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Taking a big step for our region’s future

The development of the new Ohio River bridge between Wellsburg and Brilliant took a big step forward this week, when the main 830-foot-span was floated down the river and lifted onto its piers.

While the bridge itself is far from complete, the event serves as a major milestone in a decades-long effort to improve the infrastructure and connectivity of our region.

For years, area officials looked at the need for a new bridge in our area. The Veterans Memorial Bridge was completed in 1991, making our newest span now 30 years old. The Fort Steuben Bridge was built in 1928 and demolished in 2012, while the Market Street Bridge, built in 1905, was given an extended life thanks to some renovations in 2011. Beyond that, anyone wishing to cross the Ohio River between West Virginia and Ohio has to drive either north to the bridges serving Chester, Newell and East Liverpool, or south to Wheeling.

That additional link is necessary, and we’re glad to see it happening.

There are, of course, way too many people to thank for their involvement in making this bridge a reality. From John Brown, Mike Paprocki and all the staff over the years at the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, to the numerous residents who served on the local advisory council, to those at the Departments of Transportation for both West Virginia and Ohio for their support, as well as the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd and former Sen. Jay Rockefeller for providing federal funds toward the initial planning, and so many others.

The new bridge, when complete, will become a vital artery of transportation for the Upper Ohio Valley. There is hope for economic development as a result of this new link, along with improved recreational opportunities as it will include a bike lane.

Until then, crews from Flatiron Construction will continue their work, completing the piers and approaches with a goal of completion in the fall of 2022.

We look forward to seeing the bridge’s continued development.

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