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Safeguard the Bridge

Editor, News-Register:

As the iconic Wheeling Suspension Bridge, which recently celebrated the 170th anniversary of its opening and is classified as the oldest working suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere, has been closed to vehicular traffic since September 2019, I, as are a great many, am quite concerned regarding the now-uncertain future of this most historic structure.

The Wheeling Suspension Bridge, which was constructed under the leadership of the renowned civil engineer Charles Ellet Jr. (1810-1862) spans 1,010 feet, crossing the Ohio River between Wheeling and Wheeling Island. It was built between 1847 and 1849, costing, at that time, $250,000.

The construction of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge further enhanced the outstanding reputation of Mr. Ellet as the foremost advocate of wire suspension bridges, and a highly esteemed expert in their construction.

Over the many decades while in service, the Wheeling Suspension Bridge has been quite popular, and very heavily traversed, and was very much instrumental in making the city of Wheeling the outstanding community it has long been.

As a lifelong resident of nearby Martins Ferry, Ohio, I have crossed the suspension bridge countless times over the years, and continue to do so as a pedestrian, as I enjoy the breathtaking view while crossing the historic span.

In recent years, the bridge has been closed for safety reasons on numerous occasions, but had been reopened to vehicular traffic when necessary renovations had been completed.

Hopefully, this will be the case as a result of its recent closing, as well, as the reopening of the wonderful bridge may perhaps be even more of a necessity than a luxury, as a result of the extensive and much-needed repair work that is currently being done on the nearby Fort Henry Bridge, which will take considerable time to complete.

Also, if and when renovations to the Wheeling Suspension Bridge are completed and it is reopened to vehicular traffic, perhaps even more care, if possible, can be taken to ensure that vehicles crossing in the future are in full compliance with the established weight and height guidelines, in order to, hopefully, avoid such closures of the historic structure in the future.

Richard Hord

Martins Ferry

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