For more than 20 years, local residents have wondered if the old toll bridge that spans the Ohio River between Benwood and Bellaire would be razed or allowed to stand neglected until it falls into the water. Now that the bridge has a new owner who wants to demolish it, issues with permits and financial assurances make it seem the process may drag on forever.
But Benwood officials are right to demand that owner Delta Demolition guarantee that work on the portion of the structure that stands above the city's streets will be done safely and in a timely fashion.
This week, Benwood City Council approved a resolution requiring Delta to establish an escrow account containing $500,000 before beginning to raze the bridge. Council also stipulated that only the city's name will appear on that account.
According to a July agreement between the city and the firm, if Delta does not finish the work in six months, the city gets to keep the money. Delta also would forfeit remaining scrap metal to the city if it fails to complete the job on time.
The money in escrow and money generated by selling the scrap would then be used to hire another contractor to complete the job. But if Delta finishes the job correctly, Benwood will return the money, including any interest accrued.
Too often, demolition projects seem to drag on and on, taking weeks or even months more than seems reasonable.
Benwood officials are making a smart move by ensuring a mechanism is in place to guarantee the work is finished once it begins. Even if that takes a little longer than the public would like, it will be worth the wait.