Parkersburg gets grant for bridge

PARKERSBURG – A $128,000 state grant will allow city officials to extend the bicycle/walking trail that runs along the floodwall north from Point Park.

The planned bridge over the Pond Run outflow will be an important piece of a river trail envisioned to one day run to the Ohio River Islands, said Kim Coram, a Parkersburg City Council member and coordinator for the Wood County Alternative Transportation Council.

“The quality of life that will bring to the area will be stupendous, absolutely stupendous,” she said.

The grant comes from the West Virginia Division of Highways and will be used to build a 42-foot, concrete, box-beam bridge, with 40-foot approaches on either side, said Justin Smith, city engineer. It was designed about two years ago by Parkersburg-based Burgess & Niple, but the grant for construction was only recently confirmed.

The grant requires a local match of $32,000, which Mayor Bob Newell said can be provided through city funds and in-kind contributions. It must still be formally accepted by City Council, but after that, Smith said he expects construction to start “this year, for sure.”

“Now that it is granted, as soon as the money goes into development’s bank account, we’ll advertise and bid it,” he said.

The city is in the process of completing the Little Kanawha Connector Trail from Corning Park along West Virginia 47 to Point Park. Once the bridge is built, other portions of the trail need to be identified and secured, but it eventually will run along the floodwall up toward Grand Central Mall.

“It will be a pretty lengthy trail that takes you from Tim Hortons (on Murdoch Avenue) all the way to Corning Park,” Newell said.

Coram said a river trail would benefit tourists, people who live in Parkersburg and work in Vienna and even motorists.

“I think one thing that you’ll see is a reduction in traffic on Grand Central (Avenue),” she said.

Vincent resident Robert Macchia, who works in downtown Parkersburg, said he walks the existing trail at Point Park a few times a week and looks forward to the bridge being built.

“I’d like it if they extended it, as a walker,” he said.