14 votes

Bellaire Toll Bridge


South View from Ohio Highway 7

This amazing example of engineering appears to be doomed. It opened as a private toll bridge on December 22, 1926 and operated that way until May 1, 1991, when it closed.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in February 2008


BH Photo #111312

Street Views 

The History and Future of the Bellaire Bridge 

Written by J.R. Manning

The Bellaire Bridge is, and has been since its opening on December 22, 1926, a privately owned toll bridge. When designed, it was thought the bridge would carry streetcars, and tracks were built into the deck. In addition, it was constructed well enough to carry the 100,000 pound streetcars.

The cantilever truss design makes this a stunning bridge, impressive from any view. It can be seen from miles around. If ever steel and concrete could be considered a work of art, the Bellaire Bridge is such a work of art.

But it appears this impressive masterpiece of engineering artwork is doomed. The U.S. Coast Guard has declared the bridge a hazard to navigation. Detractors claim it is about to coallapse into the river under its own weight. Fans wish to see it restored and reopened because of its historical value.

A public hearing was held on December 19, 2007 in Bellaire, Ohio, regarding the fate of this controversial bridge. Access to the east end of the bridge is still intact, entrance and exit ramps to West Virginia Highway 2 are extant. The west end of the bridge is inaccessible, as it was cut off to allow construction of Ohio Highway 7.

Apparently, little was resolved at the public hearing. The U.S. Coast Guard wants the structure torn down because it is unused and a navigation nuisance. Some residents on both sides of the river agree, however, many residents side with owner, Roger Barack, and wish to see the bridge restored and reopened as the toll bridge that it always was.

Through his attorney, owner Roger Barack claims he was mislead by the Ohio Department of Transportation. He says ODOT mislead him on the possibility of access ramps being built on the Ohio end of the bridge to keep the span open.

The Coast Guard did demand the structure to be removed in 2004, however, Coast Guard officials believe Barack was denied due process and this hearing was held to restart the process.

Regardless of any desire to reopen the bridge, the stunning structure appears, so far, to be doomed.





The Wikipedia list of Ohio River Crossings:


More photos on Bridges & Tunnels:



Cantilevered through truss bridge over Ohio River at Bellaire
Bellaire, Belmont County, Ohio, and Marshall County, West Virginia
Closed to all traffic since 1992
Operated as a privately owned toll bridge unitl 1991 when Ohio DOT cut off the west approach to build a new OH 7. Now owned by KDC investments which is in litigation with three companys who claim they paid for the exclusive scrap rights.
- J.E. Greiner Co. of Baltimore, Maryland & Chicago, Illinois (Designer)
- J.E. Moss Iron Works of Wheeling, West Virginia (Superstructure)
- Mt. Vernon Bridge Co. of Mt. Vernon, Ohio (Superstructure)
- R.R. Kitchen Co. of Wheeling, West Virginia (Deck)
- Vang Construction Co. of Cumberland, Maryland (Substructure)
- Interurban
Cantilevered through truss
Length of largest span: 700.0 ft.
Total length: 2,770.0 ft. (0.5 mi.)
Also called
Bellaire Bridge
Interstate Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.01513, -80.73878   (decimal degrees)
40°00'54" N, 80°44'20" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/522292/4429469 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 36178 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • October 4, 2021: Updated by Paul Plassman: Corrected main span length from 1,250' to 700'
  • February 6, 2020: New photos from Melissa Brand-Welch
  • November 2, 2016: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added categories "Pin-connected", "Riveted"
  • June 12, 2016: New photos from Royce and Bobette Haley
  • March 8, 2015: Photo imported by Dave King
  • October 28, 2013: New photos from Luke Harden
  • October 27, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Edited builder's section for clarity
  • August 13, 2011: Updated by Ed Hollowell: Added update on demolition
  • July 27, 2009: New photos from James Baughn
  • February 23, 2008: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • February 5, 2008: Added by J.R. Manning



Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted December 8, 2022, by Philip Rife (philiprife [at] yahoo [dot] com)

My grandfather, Harvey Rife worked as a toll taker on the Ohio side of the bridge, up to at least the mid 60's. I don't know when he first began working there. Family legend has it that Harvey once saved a woman who attempted suicide by jumping from the bridge. I can't provide any details as I was young when I heard the story.

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted December 16, 2020, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

When the bridge was owned by Roger Barack, I believe he told me he had a full set of print drawings of the bridge. Unfortunately neither Roger or myself ever scanned them all. Worse, I believe the bridge is now owned by a demolition contractor so I assume the drawings passed to them.

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted December 16, 2020, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Being as it was built privately that could prove to be difficult. Mt Vernon Bridge Co. was likley the primary fabricator and might have been the designer. I don't know if any of their drawings have survived or not. Might try the Mt. Vernon, Ohio library.

Bellaire Toll Bridge - As-Built Drawings
Posted December 16, 2020, by LaVerne (laverne [dot] sessler [at] gmail [dot] com)

Does anyone know where to find any as-built drawings of this bridge?

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted October 13, 2020, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

Rust, rust, rust it never stops on the Bellaire Toll Bridge!

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted February 8, 2020, by Art S. (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

You'd think it would be cheaper to stabilize the areas of concern rather than tear it down. Rather unfortunate.

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted February 6, 2020, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I believe the $800,000 they are raising is to just remove the approach spans over their down, the main span could not be demolished with those meager funds. Ultimately, I suppose that is a good outcome if it shuts the people of Benwood up, and keeps the historically significant main spans standing for a while longer. Although it would make future preservation turnaround far more difficult.

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted February 6, 2020, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

An update: The 'action' is in Benwood, W. Virginia where there is a strong feeling that the bridge, which crosses above 800 feet of Benwood and has been shedding crumbling concrete on the town, is a hazard. City officials are trying to come up with a plan to raise $800,000 to pay for the bridge's removal.

A December 2019 story by WTFR offers details on this. https://www.wtrf.com/news/benwood-to-ask-residents-to-pay-80...

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted March 26, 2018, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Found what appears to be a March 9, 2018 update:


Quote from the Article: "The price of metal “has gone up quite a bit” in recent years, and a local recycler who has done similar work could likely be willing to take on the work of salvaging the 5,200 tons of metal in the bridge, he said. The Bellaire Bridge is actually constructed of a higher grade metal that is in demand, according to Longwell."

A higher grade metal on this historic bridge... You know, you think they would learn something from a statement like that. But as they still plan to demolish the bridge, I guess not.

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted June 24, 2017, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

Over a year ago this editorial was published about the bridge. I see nothing newer. http://www.theintelligencer.net/opinion/editorials/2016/01/a...

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted August 15, 2015, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

And so the story continues!!!

If you want to know more please go to http://www.theintelligencer.net/page/content.detail/id/61578...

The short version is that the bridge owner is going to jail and no one is able to come up with a plan to satisify the lean holders so demo can go forward.

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted October 27, 2013, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

This bridge just keeps going on and on. Rodger Barack owned the bridge since it was closed and he finally gave up and sold it for a dollar to Advanced Explosives Demolition (AED) who sold to Lee Chaklos who owns it under the name KDC investments. KDC now is in court fighting claims that the exclusive scrap rights were sold to three different company. Those companys have leans against the bridge and it can't come down until the courts rule on who owns the scrap rights and who should get their money back. Next court date is Nov. 12, 2013. Read more at http://www.theintelligencer.net/page/content.detail/id/59077...

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted April 5, 2013, by J.R. Manning (thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Apparently, the old lady is still there.

It's (reportedly) now owned by a demolition company, but the company is having trouble coming to terms with Benwood over contracts.

An old friend of mine, a professor at a distinguished eastern university, has been quoted about bridges: "Bridges are expensive to build. They are expensive to maintain. They are even more expensive to take down."

The Bellaire Bridge seems to prove his adage.

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted August 13, 2011, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

The Bridge is scheduled to come down before the end of 2011. The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register has the details and the link is- http://www.theintelligencer.net/page/content.detail/id/55778...

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted May 23, 2010, by J.R. Manning (thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

This is truly sad news. Inevitable, but sad.

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted May 23, 2010, by Will Nelson (Willynwv [at] yahoo [dot] com)

The local Wheeling news media is reporting the Bellaire Toll bridge has been sold and demolition may begin in mid June.

Bellaire Toll Bridge
Posted July 28, 2009, by J.R. Manning (thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Nice pics, James. So the Old Girl is still standing, although the toll entrance appears to have rusted some since I was there last (compare to photo #3) although you can still see the ghost of the BELLAIRE BRIDGE lettering on the façade. Just watch out for the last step on the Bellaire side.

I love this structure, it was built to support streetcars (that were never installed) and seems to have held up pretty well in the 18 years since its closure. Your photos show that, apparently, not much has happened in the two years since I last visited Bellaire and Benwood.