Dedication of Bridge at Wayne

Wayne County News
October 14, 1971

Wayne Bridge Dedication Is Friday

The new Wayne bridge will be opened Friday during ceremonies at 2 p.m. in which Gov. Arch A. Moore, Jr., and Commissioner William S. Ritchie, Jr., of the State Department of Highways will participate.

The span carries U.S. 52 across Twelve Pole Creek between Wayne and Newtown Addition and replaces the David Brinkley Bridge, which collapsed Sept. 22, 1970. Apparently the Brinkley name will not "officially" be transferred to the new bridge, however. A Department of Highways spokesman said Tuesday the new structure "at the present" is unnamed.

In a statement released Tuesday, Gov. Moore said the new modern bridge "was being opened just a few weeks after the first anniversary of the collapse of the Brinkley Bridge."

The first anniversary was the target date for opening the bridge but construction problems caused a delay, first to Oct. 1, and then a tentative opening date of Oct. 15 was set. During a maintenance meeting Tuesday morning the contractor, the Dixie Bridge Co. of Lexington, Ky., announced that the span would be completed on Friday and the dedication ceremonies were arranged.

Gov. Moore's announcement noted that the bridge, which had been scheduled to replace the Brinkley Bridge before the latter's collapse, was being built "with 100 per cent state funds at a cost of nearly $500,000."

The bridge dedication comes a little more than eight months after actual construction work began on Feb. 3. The contract was awarded last Dec. 15 on a bid of $464,673. The Lexington firm submitted the only bid for the project.

The ceremonies Friday will be brief, according to Fred Justice of the Wayne Area Chamber of Commerce. "There is no effort being made to make an elaborate thing out of it," Justice said.

An assistant to television newscaster David Brinkley said Tuesday Brinkley had not received an invitation to the dedication and probably would not be able to attend if asked because of the short notice.

Brinkley put the old bridge in the national spotlight in 1960 while he was in West Virginia covering the primary election campaign between the late John F. Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey.

While crossing the bridge he held a microphone to the wooden floor. When the film was broadcast on the nationwide television newscast, millions heard the rumble of what Brinkley called the noisiest bridge in the world.

Days later the span was closed for repairs and on June 17, 1961, Brinkley returned to Wayne County to cut the ribbon on the reinforced, repainted and refloored bridge.

In another bridge development, a Democratic state senator has praised the actions of a Republican governor for his role in removing the tolls from the Fort Gay-Louisa bridge.

In a letter dated Oct. 3 to Gov. Arch A. Moore, Jr., State Sen. Robert R. Nelson, who represents Wayne and Cabell counties, said, "I wish to commend you in your recent action in joining with Governor Nunn of Kentucky in removing tolls from the Fort Gay-Louisa Bridge."

Nelson said he also wanted to compliment the governor "on the manner in which you have apparently have satisfied federal requirements for construction of a four-lane development highway from Huntington to Chester along what is now West Virginia Highway Route 2. Such a Highway has long been justified and needed.

"I urge you and Highways Commissioner (Ritchie) to give high priority to construction of a new bridge in the Fort Gay-Louisa area, completion of the TOLSIA Highway, with particular attention to rapid completion of the Prichard-Fort Gay link, and speedy completion of a new, four-lane Route 2.