ST. ALBANS, W.Va. — Residents of Nitro and St. Albans will get their first opportunity to try out the new Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge Thursday night before traffic does.
A “Walk The Bridge Party” is scheduled from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Residents will be able to walk the new bridge for the first time.
The Nitro and St. Albans historical societies have many activities planned for the party including a “trunk or treats”, since it is Halloween night.
“We’re going to have three or four cars with their trunks open with lots of treats in them and I believe we’re also going to have a couple vendors serving some food,” said Nitro Mayor Dave Casebolt.
Those vehicles will be provided by the Nitro Antique Auto Club. Similar events will be taking place on the St. Albans side as well.
“We have quite a few people talking about coming and of course it’s going to be depending on the weather but hopefully the weather will cooperate and we’ll have a great event,” said Casebolt.
But the big day will be Friday when the new bridge will officially be opened to traffic after a special ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the center of the new bridge.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox, and other state, federal, and local leaders are expected to be on hand for the event, which is expected to last for about an hour.
The completion of the new bridge comes three weeks ahead of schedule. The bridge was closed for less than ten months, mainly due to the fact the contractor was able to reinforce and strengthen the existing piers while traffic continued to use the old bridge.
St. Albans Mayor Dick Callaway said the St. Albans-Nitro Bridge has evolved quite a bit since it was first built.
“The bridge was constructed by the City of St. Albans and it was a toll bridge that you had to pay to go to and from the two cities,” he said.
The new bridge features three 12-foot-wide travel lanes and an early turning lane on either end. It also has 6-foot-wide shoulders and 5-foot-wide sidewalks. This is much larger than the old bridge that had a two-lane system with 9-foot-wide lanes and a sidewalk between trusses.
Casebolt said the completion of the bridge is a day many were looking forward to.
“I am very excited and I know the business owners are very excited too,” he said. “They have really taken a pounding during this time on their loss revenue.”
Foot traffic will be allowed on the bridge Thursday from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Then on Friday, the bridge will officially be opened after the conclusion of a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11:30 a.m.
Bands from Nitro and St. Albans high schools will perform during the ceremony. State and local officials are expected to give a couple comments during the ceremony.