Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 25, 2014

Building bridges Infrastructure upgrade for Bramwell

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Ever since the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system opened for business in Bramwell in early 2012, the historic Home of the Millionaires has been bustling with out-of-town visitors. The additional traffic has provided a nice tourism and economic development boost to the town and surrounding communities.

That’s why recent word of a new $4 million double bridge replacement project in the town is welcomed. According to Mayor Louise Stoker, the state Division of Highways has been working with the town for the past three years on a plan to replace both the Yon-Peraldo Bridge and the Kate Hewitt Bridge.

The Yon-Peraldo Bridge connects Bluestone Avenue to downtown Bramwell, and the Kate Hewitt Bridge is at the east end of Main Street. The Kate Hewitt Bridge is the older of the two structures.

Stoker says the new bridges will provide for safer travel conditions and accommodate heavier vehicles. At present, there is a weight limit on each of the bridges.

As currently proposed by the DOH, the new Yon-Peraldo Bridge will be a wider, two-span structure designed to be almost identical in appearance to the current span. It will be positioned on almost the same alignment as the current bridge. The proposed bridge’s width is 18 feet with a five-foot sidewalk.

The DOH estimates the cost of replacing the Yon-Peraldo Bridge at $2,380,000.

The current Kate Hewitt Bridge is a two-span steel pony truss bridge with a roadway width of 11 feet and 5 inches curb-to-curb. The new bridge is proposed as a two-span, prefabricated pony truss with a curb-to-curb width of 15 feet supported by a full-height concrete abutment with an artificial stone façade along the existing alignment, according to the DOH.

The estimated construction cost is $1,717,000. Both projects will be funded by a combination of state and federal dollars. None of the bridge’s existing historic structures will be damaged or disturbed, according to the DOH.

A construction date has not yet been set, but town officials are hoping the work can begin soon.

The double bridge replacement projects are welcomed — particularly in light of all of the additional traffic the town is seeing. Anytime funding can be found to replace aging infrastructure in our region the news is certainly worthy of celebrating.

 And when the new Spearhead Trail system is opened in neighboring Pocahontas, Va., the number of out-of-town visitors in the two neighboring municipalities will most certainly continue to increase.