The old Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge, between Nitro and St. Albans, is being hauled away for recycling, piece by piece, this week.
The first 50 foot long section of the bridge was removed and lowered onto a barge on the Kanawha River on Tuesday afternoon.
Division of Highways Project Supervisor John Buchanan says that is just the start of the removal work. “It’ll be repeated, hopefully, about every day,” Buchanan told 58-WCHS.
Once the pieces of the bridge are moved out, by barge, there are a number of additional steps before decking work can start.
“The existing piers that we’ve encased, we have to knock off the existing cap and put a new one on that is capable of carrying the superstructure that we are going to put on,” he said.
“That’s what the new steel will sit on and then we’ll have to build the abutments, also, on the ground.” The new bridge will include three lanes instead of two lanes like the old bridge.
Buchanan says the project is on schedule, largely because of the pier prep work utilizing the existing piers, that was done before the bridge closed to traffic in January.
“It had to be done because it took us four or five months just to get through that,” he said. “If we had tried to do everything (at once), we wouldn’t have been able to do it in one year.”
Thousands of drivers are taking detours while the bridge, a main artery in the Kanawha Valley, is closed.
The goal is to open the new Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge, which will include three lanes, by Thanksgiving of this year.