Memorial Bridge to close for repairs

Annual maintenance on the Memorial Bridge is slated to start a week from Monday and wrap up before the start of the Parkersburg Homecoming.

The City of Parkersburg issued a release this week saying the $182,000 project would require the bridge to be completely closed for two weeks starting Aug. 4. When asked about the overlap of that time period with Parkersburg Homecoming, which runs Aug. 15-17, City Engineer Justin Smith said the span would be open for the festival.

“It’s very, very likely … it’ll be open by the 14th,” Smith said.

Severe weather could delay the work, but Smith said the city will make arrangements if the project isn’t finished in time.

“If we have to, we’ll put a plate across the repair so people can get across,” he said.

Homecoming events are generally centered around the downtown area and Point Park. While nothing is planned for the vicinity of the Memorial Bridge, the Belpre Bridge will be closed during the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half-Marathon on the morning of Aug. 16 and for the fireworks display that evening.

That would leave the U.S. 50 bridge as the most direct way to get into Parkersburg from Ohio during those times.

“We can’t have both bridges closed,” Smith said.

The bridge repair, which is being done by Charleston-based Teays River Construction Co., will include complete replacement of an expansion joint and replacement of approximately 400 square feet of concrete deck.

“We’re trying to replace that big bump that’s in the middle,” said Stephanie Hickerson, assistant city engineer.

HNTB of Charleston will also be doing its inspection of the bridge while the work is going on, which will help determine the priorities for next year’s maintenance, Hickerson said.

During the closure, city officials are asking people who frequently use the bridge to plan for an alternate route. Police Chief Joe Martin said motorists should allow themselves more time to get to their destination if the closure forces them to take an alternate route.

“We’ll probably have an increased presence in the downtown area because of the traffic,” he said.

If traffic starts to back up significantly downtown, officers might be deployed to direct traffic. That happened in 2012, but not last year, which Martin attributed to more advance notice being provided.

“Last year, it went pretty smooth,” he said.