Dunbar bridge closing for inspection

Chris Dorst
The Dunbar toll bridge will be closed next week for a routine bridge inspection, requiring motorists to seek alternate routes. Closure is not related to $1.1 million proposal to improve handicapped access on the span
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Dunbar toll bridge between Dunbar and South Charleston will be closed next week for a routine inspection.State Division of Highways spokeswoman Carrie Bly said the bridge will be closed Monday through March 28 from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Electronic signs have already been posted on Interstate 64 and U.S. 60 informing motorists of the closure.Bly and Dunbar Mayor Terry Greenlee said the bridge inspection is not related to a $1.1 million proposal to add handicapped access ramps to the bridge. Highways officials held public meetings last year to determine the best way to make the structure more accessible to wheelchairs and motorized scooters.The bridge was built in 1953, and for years charged a fee for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists to cross between Dunbar and South Charleston. Though there has been no toll for 30 years, the span is still known as the Dunbar toll bridge.The 1,400-foot span has stairs at each end to accommodate pedestrians, but there is no way to get a wheelchair or scooter onto the sidewalk that crosses the bridge. The only way for wheelchairs or scooters to get across is in the heavily traveled traffic lanes.
"You'll see people in wheelchairs and scooters, and they're in the middle of the road," Greenlee said last fall. "It's a danger for them and a liability for Dunbar and South Charleston."Highways officials presented three different plans to add wheelchair and scooter ramps to the bridge. They picked a plan that involves building a new switchback ramp on the Dunbar side of the bridge with a path underneath the bridge to connect with the Dunbar Village Shopping Center. On the South Charleston side, highways officials want to extend the existing sidewalk and add a handicapped accessible ramp connecting with MacCorkle Avenue.Bly said engineers are working on the design of the new ramps and sidewalks. Construction is expected to begin in the fall.Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215. 
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