Future of abandoned West Virginia-Ohio bridges bleak

Coast Guard wants bridges removed

News Wheeling News-Register October 29, 2007
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If the U.S. Coast Guard has its way, three long-abandoned bridges between Ohio and West Virginia will be removed.

Located within four river miles of each other, the bridges consist of the Aetnaville Bridge on Wheeling Island, the old Bridgeport Bridge connecting Wheeling Island to Ohio and the former Bellaire Toll Bridge, which connected Bellaire and Benwood.

The toll bridge is the largest on the Coast Guard’s list but the two smaller bridges are considered to be equally futureless spans.

Bridge administrator for the Coast Guard District 8 in St. Louis, Mo., Roger Wiebusch said, “If an abandoned bridge is obstructing river navigation and is no longer being used for transportation, it has to be removed.”

He said a public hearing about the toll bridge is in the works, but no date has been set yet.

“A public hearing will be held in the Bellaire vicinity within the next two months, hopefully by the end of the year,” Wiebusch said.

He said transcripts from the hearing will be reviewed and a decision will be made about the bridge.

“We will receive testimony to determine if the bridge is obstructing river navigation, if it is being used for transportation or if it has any potential use,” he said.

Wiebusch said the West Virginia Division of Highways has been told two Wheeling Island bridges also must come down.

“We have had discussions with state officials,” he said. “It is up to the state as to when and how the bridges will be removed. Every case is different. We are in agreement the state owns the bridges, they are not in use and they must be removed.”

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