Construction on the bridge connecting Nitro and St. Albans is on schedule, officials said, and work trucks have been spotted driving across the span.
Over the past nine months, residents watched the 78-year-old Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge be dismantled and demolished and the new bridge form in its place. New steel was laid and after months of anticipation, the beams connected over the Kanawha River.
Now workers are pouring the concrete deck, bringing hopes the bridge will soon open as work trucks moved from one side to the other.
"We've been putting down the deck for the last five days," said Brent Walker, state Department of Transportation spokesman. "We're still about a month away but we're right on schedule."
Plans were announced in 2010 to take down the narrow two-lane bridge and replace it with a new, wider structure. The $23 million plan called for three lanes, including a turning lane, and a five-foot-wide sidewalk.
Kokosing Construction crews started work on the piers in March 2012. The aging bridge was shut down months later in January, forcing regular travelers of the bridge to find another way across the Kanawha.
Workers started cutting steel down from the structure in February. Explosives were used to demolish the approach ramps on the Nitro and St. Albans sides of the river in late February and early March. Residents gathered on both sides of the river to watch a piece of their history go out with a bang.
Work on the bridge continued through the summer and the steel superstructure seemingly grew back together in July.
"It's still pretty impressive when you think that the bridge has only been closed less than a year - nine months as of now," Walker said.
There still are things to be done. Walker said workers are continuing to pour the deck, which will have to cure for a time, but also have to pour the approach ramps, retaining walls, sidewalk, and install railings. Then the road has to be striped.
"Still about four weeks or so left," Walker said. "But we're definitely on the downhill side.
"People are starting to see this and they're starting to get excited. We're anxious to bring those two communities back together for sure."
He said the agency hopes to have a "nice celebration" when the work is complete. The bridge is expected to open the first week of November.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.cr...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.