PARKERSBURG — The Memorial Bridge is now privately owned, although the City of Parkersburg will continue to operate the toll bridge while a $50 million rehabilitation project is underway.
“I am very happy that we have reached this point”, Mayor Tom Joyce said Friday, a week after the sale to Parkersburg Bridge Partners officially closed. “This is not the last step.”
With the transfer of ownership, the company began the rehabilitation project to extend the useful life of the 67-year-old bridge by at least 50 years. The span was closed to traffic for about 45 days from Tuesday. Representatives from Parkersburg Bridge Partners said the closure will allow contractors to replace the welds that connect the steel grid deck below the driving surface to the rest of the superstructure.
Once the bridge reopens, traffic is expected to travel with at least one lane open as the project continues through October 2023.
With Kokosing Construction as the main contractor, the work will include a new paint and coating system, complete removal and replacement of the deck, replacement of the existing bridge parapet handrail, repairs to the steel superstructure, repairs to concrete piers and columns, new LED pavement and decorative lighting, and repaved and upgraded bridge pavements.
As part of the sale agreement approved by the Parkersburg City Council in May, Parkersburg Bridge Partners, a subsidiary of Colorado-based United Bridge Partners, will pay the city $4 million and not claim the roughly 11, $8 million the city has allocated over the years for the maintenance and eventual demolition of the bridge.
“I look forward to working with City Council to determine how to appropriate these funds,” Joyce said, adding that he hopes to use the money to make a significant and tangible improvement in the quality of life for residents of the city and region.
Joyce said the city will continue to pay bridge toll workers during the closure, and Parkersburg Bridge Partners will reimburse those funds. The city will operate the bridge during the rehabilitation work, with the company reimbursing expenses.
Once the project is completed, the bridge will switch to a fully electronic toll system and the price will increase to at least $1 for a single trip.
The main detour during the Memorial Bridge closure directs motorists to the Belpre Bridge in downtown Parkersburg. Police Chief Scott Elliott said officers were monitoring downtown traffic, particularly during morning and evening commutes, and there were no major issues.
“It’s obviously busier, but it’s flowing”, said Elliott.
A representative from Parkersburg Bridge Partners said the company would have a statement on the closing of the sale next week.
Evan Bevins can be reached at email@example.com.