Bridge work affects Brooke trail

WELLSBURG — The Brooke County commissioners on Thursday learned much of the Brooke County Pioneer Trail will be closed for at least a year while crews build a retaining wall near the future site of the new Ohio River bridge.

The trail extends from the Buffalo Creek Bridge at Wellsburg’s south end to the border of Brooke and Ohio counties.

Ruby Greathouse, president of the Brooke County Pioneer Trail Association, said beginning Monday and until further notice, the recreational trail will be closed between Beech Bottom and Wellsburg while crews construct the 4,500-foot wall between state Route 2 and the trail.

Greathouse said the wall will address a slip along the highway that has exposed former trolley tracks beneath the road and caused cinders and other material to be washed onto the trail.

The wall is part of a $131 million project involving the construction of a tied arch span extending 1,600 feet across the river, from an area about a mile south of Wellsburg to the intersection of Third and Clever streets in Brilliant.

The bridge’s 60-foot deck will consist of four lanes, one each for west- and eastbound traffic; a center turn lane for vehicles turning against the flow of traffic on each end; and a lane for bicyclists.

Plans call for the bicyclists to continue down a railed ramp to the trail below.

Greathouse said while the closing will be an inconvenience, it will ensure the safety of trail users while crews operate heavy equipment along the trail. She said this week crews began clearing brush from the site.

Commission President Tim Ennis said when the clearing is done, trail users will have a nearly mile-long view of the river.

The Flatiron Corp. of Broomfield, Colo., is the contractor for the project, which is expected to be completed in 2021.

Early next year, nearly 100 workers with Flatiron are slated to begin construction of the span in an area behind the Smith Oil gas station. Plans call for it to be transported down river by two barges, then lifted onto its piers with large jacks. With an estimated weight of 4,000 tons, the span is believed to be the heaviest structure to be lifted in such a way in the United States.

Thursday’s meeting was held in the office of Commissioner Stacey Wise because the county’s electronic voting machines were being stored in the commission’s locked meeting room while crews install new lights in the break room normally used for their storage following the election.

The commissioners applauded county Clerk Sylvia Benzo and her staff and the county’s poll workers for their efforts on Election Day.

Benzo said the day went smoothly with the exception of a voting machine at the former Franklin Primary School that caused some difficulties and delays. But she said all votes cast with the machine were counted.

In other business:

¯ Brooke County Sheriff Larry Palmer said the county’s 911 advisory council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the courthouse to discuss proposed upgrades with a consultant hired earlier this year.

¯ The commissioners received letters of interest in serving on the Brooke Hills Park board from Luke Diserio, who is seeking reappointment to the panel, and Tim Hooper. The commission is accepting letters of interest in four seats for which terms are up later this month.

¯ Anthony “Butch” Rotellini, a volunteer who aided the sheriff’s department in using the county courthouse’s X-ray to scan Halloween candy, said 50 to 100 trick-or-treaters brought in their treasures and no foreign objects were found. Rotellini noted response to the service was good and it might be done again next year.