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Bellaire Toll Bridge

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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

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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.

Sources:

http://www.theintelligencer.net/page/content.detail/id/50360...

http://www.bellaire.lib.oh.us/BellaireBridgev3.htm

http://www.historicbridges.org/ohio/bellaire/index.htm

The Wikipedia list of Ohio River Crossings:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_crossings_of_the_Ohio_R...

More photos on Bridges & Tunnels:

http://www.bridgestunnels.com/index.php?catid=10&photos=1

Facts 

Overview
Cantilevered through truss bridge over Ohio River at Bellaire
Location
Benwood, Belmont County, Ohio, and Marshall County, West Virginia
Status
Closed to all traffic
History
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.
Builders
- J. E. Greiner Co. of Baltimore, Maryland and 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. (Substructure)
Design
Cantilevered through truss
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 1,250.0 ft.
Total length: 2,770.0 ft. (0.5 mi.)
Also called
Interstate Bridge
Bellaire 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:
Wheeling
Inventory number
BH 36178 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • 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

Sources 

Comments 

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 fašade. 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.