WELLSBURG - Paul Mattox Jr., state Commissioner of Highways, said efforts continue to determine the best site for a new Ohio River bridge.
Mattox, who was in town Wednesday to discuss traffic issues on state Route 2 with local officials, took time to field questions about the proposed span.
He said computer simulations are being done with the help of Seamen's Church Institute of Paducah, Ky., an organization that trains barge pilots, to determine the width between piers needed for watercraft to pass safely under the span at any of the proposed locations.
Mattox said the exercise is important because a large number of barges pass existing bridges along the Ohio River. The results also will help to determine the bridge's cost.
"We hope to shorten the main span as much as possible to reduce the cost," Mattox said.
A study commissioned by the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission and overseen by a committee of 30 area public officials and community members determined a new bridge south of Wellsburg would best serve the public.
Commissioned by the state Division of Highways, HDR Engineering of Weirton has suggested three sites: from state Route 2 south of Buffalo Creek in Brooke County to Third Street in Brilliant near Clark Way; from Route 2 south of Buffalo Creek to the north end of Brilliant between Penn and Steuben streets; and from Route 2 south of Buffalo Creek to Third Street near Hudson Street.
The third site is the least expensive, with an estimated cost of $76 million, but is less popular among Brilliant residents because it puts the bridge's Ohio approaches near two schools and a park.
Mattox confirmed that engineers are are revisiting the scenarios in an effort to address those concerns.
"We are working with the Ohio Department of Transportation to try as best we can to make it a win-win situation for everyone," he said.
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