Thursday, July 5, 2012

An overlooked bridge

It dawned on me today that there's a bridge here in the Huntington WV area that would have an anniversary this year if anyone particularly cared. That bridge is the Nick J. Rahall II Bridge, known locally by its old name, the West 17th Street Bridge.

The West 17th Street Bridge opened in 1967 -- 45 years ago. The bridge is a two-lane steel truss bridge connecting two four-lane highways. So, yeah, it can be kind of scary to get on at times.

Add to that both ends of the bridge are in areas that don't have much access for the general public on the river bank. Plus there's no sidewalk. I crossed the bridge Tuesday evening, and I saw a man walking across it. He was the first pedestrian I've ever seen on the bridge.

I have a few photos of the bridge, usually taken from far away. Here's one from July 1, 2010, when Adam and I chased the M/V Hoosier State up the river from old Lock and Dam 28 to a point about a mile and a quarter below the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam.

Some published sources say the bridge opened in 1968, but I want to think it was 1967. Either way, this year or next is an anniversary, but this is a bridge few people get excited about. It's not as photogenic as Huntington's East End bridge or the Roebling Bridge in Cincinnati or the new Blennerhassett Bridge near Parkersburg, W.Va. It's just a plain old bridge that does its job. It got a paint job and its new name in 1998, and that's the most exciting thing about it, I guess.

There is one good thing about the West 17th Street Bridge, though. When you're crossing from Ohio to West Virginia, you get a good look at the barges and boats at 311 Fleet. That's an area where Ingram boats drop off and pick up barges that usually haul coal that comes from docks on the Big Sandy River a few miles downstream. It's called 311 Fleet because it's at roughly Mile 311, or 311 miles below Pittsburgh. Usually I drive and Adam shoots several photos as we try to get a decent shot. And we'vce gotten some.