The public will have a chance to walk across the new Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge between Nitro and St. Albans before the bridge opens to vehicular traffic later this week.
A community celebration will take place at both ends of the bridge from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. today.
The Nitro Antique Club will host a "trunk or treat" at antique vehicles parked along the bridge, and historical societies in both Nitro and St. Albans will have information tables and a souvenir program for sale. Light refreshments will also be available from local organizations.
Friday, dignitaries from the state and local levels will be present at a ribbon cutting ceremony that begins in the middle of the bridge at 11:30 a.m. The public is invited to attend, and at least 200 seats will be available for public use.
The bridge will open later in the afternoon once equipment for the ceremony is cleared from the bridge.
Speakers at the ribbon-cutting will include St. Albans Mayor Dick Callaway, Nitro Mayor Dave Casebolt, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, and West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox, a Nitro native himself.
"Having grown up in Nitro, I have an appreciation for how important that bridge is to both communities, and the impact it has on its residents and businesses," Mattox said in a statement Wednesday. "So, it is with extra pride that we were able to build it with minimal inconvenience and maximum efficiency."
Callaway said he will recognize three St. Albans residents during the ceremony -- Q.D. Wood, who was one of the first people to go across the old bridge when it was built and who has been a key person in Rosie the Riveter efforts in the city; Margaret Bassett, a member of the St. Albans Historical Society; and Lorraine Henderson, the widow of The bridge's namesake.
The old Dick Henderson Bridge was closed and demolished in January. The 80-year-old span was narrow and could no longer handle heavy loads, including KRT buses. A replacement span has been in the works for several years.