Collect Tolls At the Bridge

Editor, News-Register:

The state of West Virginia has closed the landmark 170-year-old suspension bridge due to fear that it can’t enforce the 2-ton weight limit, and excessive traffic from the impending construction on the Fort Henry bridge might just cause it to collapse into the Ohio River just like the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant did in December 1967, killing 46 unfortunate people. The cause of that failure was found to be that it carried much more weight than it was designed for ans — imagine this — poor maintenance.

The state does not want another disaster and that is understandable. It is going to be open to pedestrians and bicycles, which is a good thing, but what about the law-abiding commuters on the island who drive cars under the 2-ton weight limit? According to a 2015 survey, over 5,400 cars used the bridge every day. What will be done and how long will it be closed is everyone’s guess.

Even after the interstate is done, what will keep heavy SUVs and trucks from violating the 2-ton weight limit? How about making it a toll bridge again? Erect two toll booths and collect, say, $1 per car and enforce the weight limit that way. Doing the math, that’s over $5,000 per day in tolls, enough to cover the cost of a few employees, plus it’s a way of enforcing the weight limit. Maybe even keep it open 16 hours a day and close it after, say, 9 p.m. when there is less traffic on the Fort Henry bridge.

Those with small cars and jobs in town, paying the city user fee, deserve better. The state could use the revenue to keep the bridge in better repair and create a few jobs, but of course they are only thinking of one thing — impending litigation if something major does happen.

The bridge was once a toll bridge and it wouldn’t take much to make it one again. I’m sure most would rather pay a buck than sit in traffic for 20-30 minutes during construction. After the rehabilitation of I-70 is done, keep it a toll bridge and let the citizens on the island decide whether to pay a toll or use the Fort Henry bridge. Either way, the majestic suspension bridge deserves not to be violated by overweight vehicles, so it can stand for at least another 170 years.

I for one am tired of closed signs in Wheeling. Those in Charleston could care less about forward thinking and the law-abiding working citizens in our Ohio valley. It’s like when in school when one person does something wrong, the whole class gets punished.

Michael Hudimac



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