WELLSBURG, W.Va. (WTRF) — It took more than 90 years, over 9 million pounds of steel and concrete, and an almost unprecedented float down the Ohio River.
But Wellsburg, West Virginia and Brilliant, Ohio can now call themselves neighbors.
Hundreds packed the Wellsburg Bridge Wednesday as marching bands played and flags were held high–to celebrate the Buckeye and Mountain State’s newest meeting point.
“We don’t want to put a fence around West Virginia. I mean, for crying out loud, this bridge is a gateway bridge that will bring development and job opportunity and on and on and on to right in West Virginia.”Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia
Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston, officials from the Federal Highway Administration, local leaders and bridge contractor Flatiron Construction all took the podium at the opening ceremony.
They each looked back on the amount of cooperation and years of diligent work required for the massive project.
But they saved their biggest thanks for the governor himself, who they say put infrastructure first with projects like Roads to Prosperity.
“We had underinvested in our infrastructure for decades and decades. So his big vision is what helped get this project moving.”Jimmy Wriston, West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary
It’s part of what Governor Justice sees as two essential parts of any successful state: education and roads.
He says the bridge is part of his administration’s plan to improve West Virginia everyday life–simply by making it easier to get to where you need to go.
You’ve got to have a standard of life. I mean, that’s all there is to it. I mean, we were tearing our cars up going to the convenience store. Not anymore.”Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia
And at long last, it was time to cut the ribbon.
The governor did the honors as orange and green fireworks colored for Brooke County Schools went off behind him and red, white and blue paper rained down on a thankful Ohio Valley.
Brooke High School’s choir ended the proceedings with “Country Roads”…a fitting song to celebrate a new way to take two different states to the place where they belong.
“So it was a slow process, but we’re here today and that’s all that matters. I mean, this is bridge day in west Virginia.”State Sen. Ryan Weld, (R) Majority Whip
The evening ended with a parade, where first responder trucks blew their horns from both sides of the river.
The bridge will be open for crossing Thursday morning at 9 a.m.