Many area residents whose daily commute takes them across the Ohio River will soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Refurbishment work on the Market Street Bridge, the 105-year-old structure that connects downtown Steubenville with W.Va. Route 2, is nearing completion. When the bridge re-opens, sometime between now and the end of November, the need will be gone for a detour that took motorists across the Veterans Memorial Bridge and added many minutes to a simple river crossing.
Crews have been working for the past two summers, repairing the bridge's towers, fixing the Ohio approach spans and trusses, replacing the mobile inspection platform and lowering its clearance by a foot to prevent overweight vehicles from violating the span's 5-ton weight limit.
The bridge also has a new look, and now features a fresh coat of blue and gold paint. The new color scheme was chosen by voting conducting by the West Virginia Department of Transportation, which is responsible for the up-keep on the bridge. As an additional touch, decorative lighting has been added to the bridge. The cost of the work is $13.7 million, which, in our opinion, is money well spent.
Originally built to carry trolleys and foot traffic, the bridge, while still functional and safe to travel on, is nearing the end of its lifespan. With the closure and pending demolition of the Fort Steuben Bridge, the Market Street Bridge stands as a back-up to the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
The repairs should keep the Market Street Bridge open until a planned bridge can be built at a site between Brilliant and Wellsburg. Without a second nearby river crossing, any event that would close the Veterans Memorial Bridge would force motorists to travel 25 miles in either direction, either to East Liverpool or Wheeling, to cross the river.
That's not an acceptable option, and a very big reason we will be glad to see the Market Street Bridge open once again.