Crews, boaters prepare for St.Albans-Nitro bridge demolition - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Crews, boaters prepare for Nitro-St.Albans bridge demolition

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A blast demolition wasn't the original plan for the Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge.

"We were slowly cutting away the bridge, and were going to cut it in chunks until we reached the banks," said Carrie Bly, a spokesperson for the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

WVDOT set out to close and reconstruct the bridge that once connected Saint Albans to Nitro. But the contractor started noticing problems about the landmark.

"They measured the weight of that steel by the original plans that were 70 plus years ago," Bly said. That's when contractors and WVDOT decided to demolish the bridge instead.

Crews will blow the Saint Albans-sector of the bridge on Friday at 10 a.m. This is the second part of the bridge to come down. The bridge closed officially on January 7.

13NEWS checked to see if the plan is causing concern for those who make their living on the river. The bridge site neighbors a marine on the Kanawha River.

"The bridge was old and needed to be replaced," said John Pile, who works for Lou Wendell Marine Shop. "Progress takes a setback in your daily lifestyle sometimes."

Lou Wendell, the owner of the marine shop, said he's not worried about his business. Approximately 100 customers dock their boats at his marine. The bulk of construction will take place before boating season starts on April 1.

"I think we'll get all our customers back," Wendell said. "Maybe we'll lose one or two. But if we do, they'll be back the following year because most people are willing to travel a few miles here to the marina to use their boat."

Wendell said the demolition will shut down boat traffic for only part of the day during construction on Friday.

But the marine did prepare for the change.

Workers moved some docks 200 feet downstream away from ground zero. The transfer cost the company hundreds of dollars, and there's still more to move. Wendell said he hopes shifting will be complete by April.

Saint Albans and Nitro Police departments will meet with contractors on Thursday to figure out how to secure the area so spectators know where to stand without getting hurt on Friday, according to Capt. James Agee, with the Saint Albans Police Department.