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Many local ties to proposed bridge project

United Bridge Partners is based in Colorado, but company officials envision the proposed $50 million rehabilitation of the Memorial Bridge as a very local project.

“We’re pretty happy about the economic boom this is going to create for the area, especially coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ryan Dolan, vice president of business development for UBP, during a presentation Thursday before Parkersburg City Council.

The company has submitted a bid to purchase the bridge for $4 million and rehabilitate it to extend its useful life by a minimum of 50 years. The deal is pending the approval of council and the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

Lead contractor Kokosing Construction Company is based in Westerville, Ohio, and performed repairs on the bridge in 2012. Kokosing and UBP have committed to using union labor and local trade groups for the project.

Multiple union groups endorsed the bid, and the Affiliated Construction Trades, a division of the West Virginia State Building & Construction Trades Council, commissioned an economic impact study on the project from the Marshall University Research Corporation’s Center for Business and Economic Research. It estimated the projected 21-month rehabilitation would create 285 jobs and have an estimated $38 million impact on the region.

The job estimate includes 110 direct construction jobs, which proposal documents say would make up for about 18 percent of the construction jobs lost in the area since 2015, 80 percent of them in Wood County.

“I think it’ll be a wonderful thing for our membership,” said Jessie King, business manager for Laborers’ Local 1085. “It’s a pretty long-term project, so it’s going to be able to help us immensely.”

Endorsements were submitted by King, the business managers of Ironworkers Local 787 and Operating Engineers Local 132 and representatives of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters and Painters Local 1144.

The other 175 jobs are projected as a result of expenditures on materials and services, including electrical supplies, concrete and paving, gasoline, truck transportation, equipment repair and engineering services.

While Modjeski and Masters Inc., with an office in Charleston, is the design engineer of record for the project, Parkersburg’s Burgess & Niple will provide oversight for UBP.

“Essentially, they’re going to be our eyes and ears every day on the construction project,” Dolan said.

Charleston-based law firm Bowles Rice, which has an office in Parkersburg, is also working with the company.

United Bridge Partners has established a subsidiary, Parkersburg Bridge Partners, to manage the bridge locally.

“We’ve already joined the Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Belpre Chamber as well,” Dolan said. “We won’t just deliver this bridge and then you’ll never see us again.”

The company plans to hire a five-person staff to operate and maintain the bridge. Dolan said it has not been decided whether they would operate out of the office space beside the bridge or establish another location.

UBP representatives emphasized the company’s efforts to become part of the communities where they do business. The company has sponsored public outreach events at previous project locations, and the proposal references support for local organizations and events such as the Taste of Parkersburg, River City Runners & Walker Club, Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Under UBP’s proposal, bridge tolls would remain unchanged for the duration of the rehabilitation work, and toll collectors would continue to be employed by the city.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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