MEMORIAL BRIDGE HISTORY PARKERSBURG WV
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Memorial Bridge Opening Pass Jan 12 1955 Picture Courtesy of Rich Allender
This was part of the traffic jam which backed up prior to the Memorial Bridge opening on January 12 1955. Better than 2,000 Autos went across within a short time after Col. C. E. Morrison snipped the white ribbon and the bridge was opened. A lady in a blue 1952. Dodge announced proudly that she was the 231st to drive across. Manager Creel Harrah hopes there'll be many more every day January 12 1955 Picture Courtesy Hank Starcher.
MEMORIAL BRIDGE HISTORY
Ground-Breaking Ceremony For New Bridge Was Held Mar. 12 1953 Memorial Bridge from its beginning as a gleam in the civic eye to a gleaming span stretching across the Ohio River. Its opening next Wednesday provides another important highway link with Ohio for this area. Memorial Bridge starts operation next Wednesday exactly 22 months from the time ground was first broken for the structure.
March 12, 1953, marked official ground-breaking ceremonies 'at a spot off Murdoch Ave. near the foot of Twenty-fifth St. From that
time forward events went like this:
Mar. 17 to April 10, 1953 - exploratory borings. April 1 initial construction stages. April 22 - first concrete poured. pier 6. May 12 river piers begun. Aug. 12 Embankments started. Oct. 1 Embankments complete. Jan. 8, 1954 - river piers now completed. Same time steel erection started. Near April 1 main span begun from both sides. June 10 main span met at center.
End of July superstructure, completed. End of Sept. Bridge completed (exclusive of approaches) Sept. to Dec. - Available portion
of traffic circle (south leg) completed to Murdoch Ave. This construction phase of the bridge, however, was simply the culmination of a series of events which led finally to concerted local action for a span which would help relieve the heavy traffic load on the old Parkersburg-Belpre bridge. That structure, begun in 1915, replaced ferry service to Belpre O in Feb. 1951, it was closed
The temporary loss of an important traffic link across the Ohio River brought the "let's have another bridge" issue into sharp focus. Real action began Before this, in late 1950. the city had been approached with the so called "Ward plan" for a new bridge. Norman Ward and Co. Pittsburgh, asked City Council for a contract on financing the bridge. A $6,500.000 bond issue was proposed with revenue bonds to be sold to investors. Tolls, 15 cents for passenger cars and 30 cents for heavier vehicles would be used to retire the bonds over a 30 year period, or less if possible.
This general plan, despite some opposition in Council, received approved In late 1951, the bonds were sold and rapid steps were taken.
to begin construction. The consulting engineering firm of Hazlett and Erdal was employed to draw plans for the span and by Dec 1952, city approval had been completed as well as coordination of the project with State Road Commission recommendations
Ground-Breaking By early 1953 the contracting firm of William J. Howard. Inc., was in a position to begin the project. During this time there were some interesting "sidelights." The State Road Commission in February 1953, submitted an estimate that it could build a bridge at the same spot for $1,200,000 less than the city-sponsored project: City officials and engineers for the bond issue bridge denied the validity of this claim partly on the basis that the SRC specifications were not in conformance. with those deemed
necessary for safe navigation on the river.
Some question also arose as to the status of the old bridge from Fifth St. when the new structure starts operating. It was emphasized
that the present bridge would remain toll-free, However, the new span is intended to divert traffic on U.S. Route 50. This will relieve a great deal of congestion on both, sides of the river and it is believed that the small tolls on the new bridge will not materially affect
the traffic flow. Although engineers have refused to commit themselves on the subject, general belief is that the old bridge is not entirely safe for heavy loads. Thus it is expected that the new one will be favored by heavy trucks even though a weight limit does not exist tor the old bridge. Nor is it contemplated to place 'one on it.
State Road Commission spokes men emphasize that although they can utilize the new bridge for traffic on State Route 2 and US 21,
they cannot officially re-route such traffic. In effect, the new span will be an "alternate" route between 2 and 21 on this side, 50 on the
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