The community celebrates a bridge that connects both cities and generations

The community celebrates an iconic local bridge.
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 8:14 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - The Memorial Bridge has been an iconic staple of our community for years. This week, locals gathered to celebrate the progress made on Memorial Bridge as well as recognize its significance to the community.

Rows of people took their seats under a tent to listen to speakers honor the bridge. Multiple city officials like the mayors of Belpre and Parkersburg made an appearance at the event.

Emily Duke, the communications director for Parkersburg Bridge Partners, read a quote at the ceremony.

“We have built this bridge as a memorial to those who have protected and defended our liberties and it is our responsibility to be just as zealous in preserving these liberties in times of peace by taking an active interest in government and civic affairs. The construction of this bridge represents such an interest.”

This quote merely skims the surface on what the Memorial Bridge means to the community.

Belpre’s mayor Mike Lorentz said, “Our little cities are fed by these three bridges so the opportunity, the convenience - it’s there and I think that’s why we’re seeing success that we’re seeing today.”

It’s a part of our infrastructure that not only connects cities but also generations.

The family of Wannee Prunty Cook, the first person to ever cross the bridge, knows this first hand.

Cook’s daughter, Judy Roberts, remembered, “People were in school at DeSales Heights, which is no longer over here on the hill, and they let us go to the top floor of the building and watch her drive across the bridge from the top floor.”

They remember Ms. Cook’s love for the bridge vividly.

Cook’s granddaughter, Leslie Roberts, said, “She transformed her one room into a huge sun room so that she could see the river and a perfect view of the bridge so every day, she was out looking at that bridge.”

Wannee Prunty Cook eventually got an official position as the bridge’s manager and her work and that of future generations’ is still felt in our daily lives.

Leslie Roberts said, “You know, I live in downtown Parkersburg and, if I’m at her house and I need to go to the mall, I don’t want to have to go all the way down to the other bridge. I can just quickly go across the toll bridge…,”

The bridge isn’t just an old hand-me-down. It’s currently undergoing major rehabilitation that will get rid of the weight limit as well add electronic tolling.

Ken Szeliga, the Vice President of Construction and Operations for the parent company of Parkersburg Bridge Partners, said, “..., You can drive through with the posted speed limit and it will either, through a trans monitor or a pay by plate system, it will register you’re going through.”

Other updates to come include LED lighting, new decking, and more.

A new shine for an old familiar MOV icon.

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