PARKERSBURG - Memorial Bridge will close for two weeks beginning this morning to allow workers to make repairs on the structure.
The bridge will officially shut down at 6 a.m. Officials say motorists should find alternative routes during the shutdown as the bridge will be inaccessible to traffic.
Parkersburg police Chief Joe Martin said the closure will not affect roads near the bridge, only the roads directly leading to the bridge and the bridge itself.
A sign on the approach to the Memorial Bridge in Belpre tells motorists the bridge will be closed starting today and running for two weeks. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)
Martin said traffic between Parkersburg and Belpre will have to go across the Belpre Bridge during that time.
"People should give themselves a bit more time for travel," he said. "Traffic will be a bit more congested in the downtown area, and we will be monitoring traffic more closely during the high-traffic times."
Martin said motorists also will have to travel a bit more slowly, as the speed limit for downtown streets is 25 mph.
The bridge repairs will include complete replacement of the west abutment expansion joint and replacement of the west approach slabs and curbs. The project will cost about $120,000.
"The replacing of the joints on the bridge is necessary for people driving over the bridge to have a smoother ride," Mayor Robert Newell said, adding a section of deck on the bridge has to be completely cut out and that's why it is necessary for work to be done and the bridge to be closed.
Newell is not expecting too many major traffic problems this year.
"Traffic will be a little slower," he said.
However, with the Corridor D bridge and highway in place, people do have additional options in getting over the Ohio River.
"That has definitely eased traffic a bit," he said.
The bridge was closed for a two-week period last summer and Newell said things went fairly well during that period.
"It was not too bad last summer," he said.