Cradled in the Appalachian foothills between Pomeroy, Ohio, and Mason, W.V., close relatives of the local veterans for whom the new $65 million Bridge of Honor was named, joined approximately 200 others for the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 30.
The Bridge of Honor, which links southern Ohio and West Virginia, was officially opened to traffic.
The span is formally called the Bridge of Honor in memory of Staff Sgt. Jimmie G. Stewart of Mason, Cpl. Edward A. Bennett of Middleport, Ohio, and Gen. James V. Hartinger.
According to the Herald-Dispatch, Stewart and Bennett were recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor and Hartinger was a four-star general.
The new bridge on S.R.833, built by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), replaces a functionally obsolete two-lane bridge that was built in 1928. Construction on the new four-lane cable-stayed suspension bridge began in 2003. A formal dedication event is expected in the spring of 2009, at which time the old bridge will be imploded and removed from the area.
The more than 1,800 ft.-long (550 m) bridge was constructed with 6.9 million lbs. (3.1 million kg) of steel and 15,000 cu. yds. (11,470 cu m) of concrete, enough to fill four Olympic size swimming pools, according to Karen Pawloski, spokesperson for ODOT district 10. The span is expected to increase traffic and business in communities near the bridge on both sides of the Ohio River.
“Unique construction was used to build the foundation which is made up of twin towers that stretch 250 feet into the air from the water. The foundation construction did not disrupt Ohio River traffic at any point during construction, keeping commerce flowing,” said Pawloski.
“Completion of this signature bridge for the villages of Pomeroy and Mason is significant and maximizes the potential for economic development in the region,” according to Larry Woodford, ODOT District 10’s District Deputy Director.
“The bridge is only part of the approximately $65 million project. A 730 ft. by 35 ft. structural retaining wall was constructed after design input from local residents and officials. The mural on the wall depicts life along the Ohio River and is visible when crossing the bridge into Pomeroy,” said Woodford.
West Virginia Secretary of Transportation Paul Mattox says, “[the bridge will] allow us to compete not only regionally and nationally but also in the global economy, so these links are very important.”
Besides the obvious transportation improvements, the most important aspect of the project was creating a centerpiece for the adjacent communities. The section of the Ohio River dividing Pomeroy and Mason is considered a destination for many tourists, according to Cary Betzing, ODOT project engineer.
Along with the constant flow of barge and waterway traffic that use this section of the Ohio River, the new four-lane cable stayed suspension bridge will better serve the 11,500 vehicles that travel from Pomeroy to Mason every day. It is estimated the average daily traffic on the bridge will be more than 15,000 vehicles by the year 2024.
“We congratulate and commend the Ohio Department of Transportation on such a wonderful structure and for allowing us the opportunity to share in the opening of this important link between Mason and Pomeroy,” stated Mattox. “We look forward to participating in the formal dedication in the spring of 2009, as we acknowledge the accomplishments of three local veterans from both West Virginia and Ohio.”
According to the Herald-Dispatch, Bennett, who died in 1983, received his Medal of Honor for his actions in World War II. Hartinger, who died in 2000, served as commander in chief of the North American Air Defense Command in the early 1980s.