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UPDATE: Denver company to pitch plan to buy Memorial toll bridge

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 5:04 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2021 at 3:34 PM EDT
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UPDATE: 4/8/21 3 P.M.

A Denver-based company will present Parkersburg city officials with its plan to buy and rehabilitate the Memorial toll bridge later this month, Mayor Tom Joyce said Thursday.

Representatives of United Bridge Partners are scheduled to make their pitch to city officials at 7 p.m. April 29 when City Council members meet as a committee of the whole, Joyce said.

West Virginia lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday pertaining to the sale of municipally owned toll bridges in the Mountain State. House Bill 2969 clarifies procedures for the sale of the bridges to private companies and sets up procedures for how they can be run. It passed 84-3 in the House of Delegates on Wednesday following a 32-1 vote in the Senate.

”Any municipality which owns and operates a toll bridge pursuant to this article may, at the sole discretion of the municipality, and upon adoption of a resolution to such effect by the council of such municipality, sell and convey such toll bridge to a private toll transportation facility subject to such terms and conditions as the council of such municipality may agree,” the bill says.

The bill, sponsored by Wood County Republican Del. Roger Conley, allows private companies to set tolls and collect them electronically. It also creates a pathway for collection of unpaid tolls that could affect a vehicle owner’s ability to register or renew the registration of a vehicle with unpaid fees or tolls.

The city currently employs several people to collect tolls from motorists crossing the Ohio River span between Parkersburg and Belpre.

Wood County Republican Delegate Shannon Kimes voted against the bill. In March, he said he would prefer to see the bridge operated by a public organization.

Sens. Mike Azinger of Wood County and Donna Boley of Pleasants County both voted for the bill.

Officials have had discussions about the sale of the Memorial bridge, which the city has owned since the 1990s, since August 2019. The bridge was opened in the mid-1950s.

ORIGINAL STORY: 3/17/21

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTAP) - Shannon Kimes is the only local member of the West Virginia House of Delegates opposed to a bill helping along the sale of Parkersburg’s Memorial Toll Bridge.

The measure, co-sponsored by fellow Wood County Delegate Roger Conley, was overwhelmingly approved Monday by the House and sent on to the Senate.

Its wording refers to toll bridges in general, but its aim, in part, is to allow the city of Parkersburg to sell the bridge it has owned since the 1990′s to a private company.

The city has had the bridge up for sale for the past two years.

Kimes says says he would rather see the bridge operated by a public organization.

<”This is ultimately up to the city of Parkersburg’s residents. I am voicing my opinion on the state legislation, and explained my vote on that. I think the best thing for the bridge and the city of Parkersburg would be for the county to take it, and to start a non-profit public partnership of some kind.”>

When the city decided to sell the bridge, it first offered it to the Wood County Commission, who declined to buy the span.

Commission President Blair Couch said at the time the county did not have the resources to maintain or eventually replace the structure.

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