Demolishing Bellaire Bridge

Many area residents probably will be glad to see the old Bellaire Toll Bridge go. It has been an eyesore and a safety hazard for many years.

But removing it should not cost the public a dime. The bridge is private property. Its owner should be held liable for any expenses incurred by local, state or federal governments.

The bridge, built in 1926, was closed in 1991. It was owned for several years by businessman Roger Barack, who recently sold it to Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc. of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. The company plans to demolish the span.

A Newton Falls, Ohio, demolition company already has sent a representative to examine the bridge, in preparation for removing it. Details of the plan were to be revealed this week.

The demolition firm’s representative has noted that for the work to proceed, cooperation will be needed from the Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Benwood.

Part of the bridge passes over Benwood, and it may prove to be difficult to dismantle that section. A larger span crosses over the Ohio River; normal procedure in similar situations has been to use explosives to knock bridges off their piers and into streams they cross. Then, the superstructures can be dismantled, piece by piece.

Exactly how much help is needed from Benwood and the federal entities has not yet been revealed. Clearly, however, all will incur at least some cost.

Neither local nor federal taxpayers should have to bear that burden. The bridge’s new owner should be required to reimburse Benwood and the federal agencies for their expenses.

The Bellaire Bridge has been an eyesore and a hazard for too long – but the entire cost of removing it should be paid by the owner.