November 24, 2021 Memorial Bridge will remain open during rehab work
Originally Published on November 10, 2021
PARKERSBURG — A $50 million rehabilitation of the Memorial Bridge is on track to start in March, with nighttime closures no longer part of the plan.
“The bridge will stay open 100 percent of the time, but there will be one lane closed for the majority of the project,” said Ken Szeliga, vice president of construction and operations for United Bridge Partners.
United Bridge Partners is the parent company of Parkersburg Bridge Partners, which is purchasing the Memorial Bridge from the City of Parkersburg. Szeliga and Ryan Dolan, vice president for business development, spoke to members of the Belpre and Mid-Ohio Valley chambers of commerce during a lunch and learn event Tuesday at the Judge Black Annex in downtown Parkersburg.
“We’re currently designing the overall project, and then we’re going to start in quarter one of next year,” Dolan said. “We’re going to upgrade each of the main bridge elements to an overall rating of good.”
Replacement of the bridge deck was originally expected to be completed by closing the bridge to traffic overnight, but Szeliga said the company ultimately decided on a different approach. Instead of the open steel grid design now in place, they plan to utilize a cast-in-place concrete deck system he said will provide a longer service life, while also shortening the project and making the work safer.
“Our commitment to the city is, at the end of the day, this bridge will have a minimum 50-year service life going forward,” Szeliga said.
The city still owns the bridge as Parkersburg Bridge Partners works to complete permitting and other tasks. That’s expected to take place by the end of the year, but some early work is going to start later this month to replace rusted and damaged steel pieces to get the bridge ready for the placement of construction equipment.
The larger rehab project will also include repainting the bridge, but first the existing paint, which includes lead, must be safely removed and contained, Szeliga said.
“Half the job of this project is painting, and it’s quite an exhaustive job,” he said.
There will also be new lighting on the bridge, including decorative lighting that can be changed for special occasions and illumination for Parkersburg’s in-progress multi-use trail, a portion of which will run under the bridge.
The rehabilitation project is targeted for completion in October 2023. While it’s going on, the bridge will continue to operate with toll-takers and tickets at the current rates.
Once the rehab work is done, the bridge will transition to a no-stop, electronic tolling system. Motorists can purchase a transponder and pay a flat monthly rate, or a device will scan their license plate and bill them. The charge for a single trip across in a two-axle vehicle is expected to rise from 50 cents to $1 at that time.
Marian DuVall, owner/broker of Exit River Bend Realty, lives near the bridge in Belpre. She said she appreciated the event and the open and knowledgeable answers provided by UBP representatives.
“It certainly sounds like they know what they’re doing from experience,” she said.
Dolan said this is the sixth toll bridge rehabilitation project the company has taken on, in the fifth state.