Blennerhassett Bridge

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

It’s now been six years since the “new” Blennerhassett Bridge was finished and opened to traffic.

The bridge was dedicated in an event, covered live by WTAP, on June 13, 2008.

It was the final link in a massive Corridor D project, designed to take a lot of the U-S Route 50 traffic off of the city streets of Parkersburg and Belpre.

The project was more than 50 years in the making.

Lots of people now use that bridge routinely, to get from one end of the Valley to another, or to get to and from Marietta more quickly.

It’s a wonderful piece of highway.

Only two questions remain un-answered regarding the Bridge and the Corridor D project as far as I’m concerned.

First is, why hasn’t this corridor spurred more economic development in the Valley?

I know.  There was an economic downturn that probably put a damper on some of it.

But other than the Western Sizzlin Steakhouse, which opened not long after the bridge was finished, I’d be hard-pressed to think of another business that has opened up along that entire 12-mile bypass of Parkersburg and Belpre.

That was one of the hoped-for results of the new highway.  Perhaps it will still happen. I hope so.

I’ve not seen any traffic counts, but I’m also hopeful that more long-distance travel is happening on that Corridor than there used to be, as travelers discover that Route 50 can be a short way between cities like Cincinnati and Washington, DC.

And perhaps some local hotels, gas stations and restaurants are seeing some business from those travelers.

The other question is: why is the massive bridge not lit better, to make it a real landmark, even after dark?

When you look at major bridges in Huntington, Charleston, Wheeling and elsewhere around the state, you see elaborate lighting systems that not only help motorists to see, but help to show off the bridges at night.

What do we have?

An amazing, huge, well-designed bridge that is painted … brown…and which is difficult to see from a distance at night.

I’m not in favor of wasting money on fancy bridge lighting, but how did other cities and other bridges get it, and we didn’t?

If anyone has the answers to these questions, I hope you’ll send them to me.

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