Bridge Needs To Be Demolished

Over the past decade or so, everything from taxpayer dollars to a reality television show have been pitched as a way to rid the area of the old Bellaire Toll Bridge.

None of the ideas have panned out.

Now, in the latest twist, a federal judge in Columbus has called for a face-to-face meeting on July 16 in his office with Benwood officials and one of the bridge’s owners, Lee Chaklos of Delta Demolition.

U.S. District Court Judge Algenon L. Marbley is handling the matter. He previously issued a court order that called for the span’s demolition to begin by June 20. Since that didn’t happen, Marbley’s order imposes fines of $1,000 per day to Chaklos and his company until the bridge comes down.

The sticking point, at least for Chaklos, is a $1 million performance bond that Benwood officials have sought as a means to protect their city and its residents. City leaders also would be willing to accept a $500,000 cash bond, but to date Chaklos has not fulfilled either request, even with the court order.

Let’s be clear: a performance bond is a reasonable request in this matter, as much of the span travels over Benwood. Chaklos, who has been working in the demolition field for many years, should be aware of that.

We can only hope that Marbley, bringing all the parties together at one time, can make progress in this matter and a demolition permit can be issued. Allowing the bridge to remain standing, with a federal court order in place calling for its demolition, is unacceptable.

The residents of Benwood and those who use the river for work and recreation deserve better than that.