New owner establishing demolition fund for Memorial Bridge

New owner establishing demolition fund for Memorial Bridge

Originally Published on MAR 30, 2022

Source: www.newsandsentinel.com


PARKERSBURG — With its acquisition of the Memorial Bridge this month, Parkersburg Bridge Partners has assumed financial responsibility for the toll bridge, its rehabilitation and operation.

That includes establishing a demolition fund, similar to the one the city maintained.

The bridge closed March 15 for an estimated 45-day period, the start of the $50 million rehabilitation effort expected to last through October 2023. The sale to PBP was finalized a few days prior.

“Memorial Bridge is now under full-scale rehabilitation, giving us a glimpse of the future of this historic piece of infrastructure,” said Ken Szeliga, vice president of construction and operations for United Bridge Partners, PBP’s parent company, in a news release. “We are looking forward to modernizing this unique bridge and providing a service life of at least 50 years for the community.”

The company paid the city $4 million and made no claim on approximately $11.8 million set aside over the years for maintenance and the eventual demolition of the bridge. Of that, $5,465,483 was earmarked for a required demolition fund, Parkersburg Finance Director Eric Jiles said.

PBP will create a similar fund, over which the city will also have some oversight, City Attorney Blaine Myers said.

“Under the acquisition and development agreement, within 30 days after closing, there is to be established a demolition fund,” he said. “That was a substantive part of our negotiations as this was being finalized last year.”

The fund will be set up through a third party, which will ensure it’s used for the intended purpose, Myers said.

“They wouldn’t be able to withdraw it and use it for some other purpose,” he said.

Szeliga said the company will make annual contributions to the demolition fund.

During the rehabilitation process, the city will continue to employ the staff and manage the bridge. PBP will split the revenue from the bridge, after costs for operations are deducted, with the city, Jiles said. Should the revenue fail to cover the city’s costs, PBP will make up the difference, he said.

Toll rates will remain the same during the rehabilitation. Once it’s complete, the bridge will shift to a fully electronic tolling system and rates are expected to increase to $1 for a single trip across.

Kokosing Construction Company is the general contractor on the project, while Burgess & Niple is the engineer representing PBP, providing construction oversight and handling permitting. HNTB, the city’s contracted bridge engineering consultant, is inspecting the rehabilitation work on Parkersburg’s behalf, City Engineer Adam Stout said.

After the rehabilitation is finished, PBP will provide copies of its federally mandated annual inspections to the city, Stout said.