BRILLIANT, Ohio (WTRF) — The gap is about to be bridged.

Soon, crossing between the Mountain and Buckeye States will no longer require going to Steubenville or Wheeling, as the Wellsburg Bridge is close to completing its nine years of planning.

That’s right, nine years—because the actual work stretched long before the 2018 groundbreaking.

The first sketches and bids happened as early as 2013, working up to last year’s extraordinary float down the river.

History made on the Ohio River as Wellsburg Bridge is moved into place

The bridge itself belongs to West Virginia, but ODOT is covering the cost of the connecting bridge over Ohio Route 7.

Even outside the bridge itself, traffic patterns have already seen a makeover.

New traffic lights are up on 3rd Street in Brilliant, and on West Virginia Route 2 it’s even more drastic.

Get ready for more room if you’re driving between Wellsburg and Beech Bottom.

At the end of the project that will get three lanes through there to allow for turning on and off of the bridge.

Tony Clark, District 6 Engineer, West Virginia Division of Highways

Crews are also preparing to put in parapet walls on either side of the bridge, and another wall just for pedestrians and bikes.

Some earth will also need to be moved for the access road on the Ohio side.

Wellsburg Kiwanis Club plants time capsule in honor of new bridge

So with these crucial steps remaining, will we be able to drive over it before the end of the year?
Clark says it’s too early to say.

Much of that work relies on the temperature, and if it gets too cold too early, tasks like the parapet walls can’t be completed.

If it’s too cold, we just can’t pour those. As long as these are, being over the river. So it depends on the weather in the next couple of months, it depends on how quickly winter sets in.

Tony Clark, District 6 Engineer, West Virginia Division of Highways

But whether it’s done in the fall or spring, the Wellsburg Bridge is already a history-maker.

From floating the span down the river, to completing a decades-long wish list item, to just building something that crosses the Ohio River—a new era of travel is just months away.

Several locals have been pushing for years for this bridge, so I can say that seeing it even come this far is quite an accomplishment.

Tony Clark, District 6 Engineer, West Virginia Division of Highways

As for what the structure will eventually be called—Clark says as of now it’s on their documents as the Wellsburg Bridge.

The legislature will eventually have to pass a resolution to give it an official name.