KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – Crews are making major developments on the demolition of the old Donald M. Legg Memorial Bridge.

Today, Dec. 21, 2022, the main span of the bridge was removed and lowered on to a barge, according to the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

The WVDOT says crews used strand jacks to lower the span onto barges to be transferred to recycling where officials say it will be melted down and used to build the new replacement bridge. The DOT says the use of the strand jacks is the same method that was used to raise the main span of the new Nitro WWI Memorial Bridge.

“Lowering this center section to get it to the side allows them to reach the other sections with the cranes they have to cut it into pieces and demo it,” said Carl Davis, project supervisor for consultant Mead & Hunt. “By demoing the bridge, it allows us to also demo part of the existing piers to rebuild and build the new eastbound structure back in the place it is now.”

DOT officials say the lowered section was approximately 250 feet long and weighs approximately 1.72 million pounds.

The Donald M. Legg Memorial Bridge first opened to traffic in 1962, serving the public for 60 years, the DOT says. Officials say a new bridge will be constructed in its place to carry eastbound traffic on I-64. The new Nitro WWI Memorial Bridge opened on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, and carries westbound traffic across the Kanawha River.

The demolition is part of a larger project to widen I-64 to improve traffic flow where an increase in traffic volume over the years has created a the bottleneck area which has led to delays on the interstate.

The DOT says the project is expected to be completed in September 2024.