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:
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