A Brief History of the Veterans Memorial Bridge

    Veterans Memorial Bridge

    One of the more unique bridge types over the Ohio River is the Veterans Memorial Bridge (New Steubenville Bridge) that carries US Route 22 between Steubenville, Ohio, and Weirton, West Virginia. Planning for the bridge began back in the 1960s with the development of limited-access freeways along the US Route 22 corridor. In 1970, six alternative alignments for US Route 22 through Ohio and West Virginia were evaluated, and eventually, a site just south of the Fort Steuben Bridge was selected.

    The proposed river structure was a unique cable-stayed box girder bridge that would provide 800 feet of horizontal clearance and tie into the ultimate upgrading of US Route 22 in the region, including a freeway (completed in 1972) from Harmon Creek Road in Weirton proceeding eastward toward Pittsburgh and other freeway proposals in Ohio. Tolls that were once proposed were dropped in 1976 thanks to an infusion of federal funds from West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd.

    Construction of the Michael Baker-designed structure began in mid-1979 with the building of the Ohio River piers by the Dravo Corporation. Once the historic Federal Land Office was relocated in Steubenville in 1982, the five contracts remaining were awarded in the mid-1980s to the Mashuda Corporation, H.J. Schneider Construction Inc., National Engineering & Contracting Inc., Dannis Industries Corporation, and S.J. Groves & Sons. At the time of construction, only three cable-stayed steel girder bridges existed outside of Europe or Japan—in Sitka, Alaska, Luling, Louisiana, and Quincy, Illinois.

    Named by a Commissioner’s Order in December 1988, the Veterans Memorial Bridge opened to traffic on May 1, 1990. Slightly different from the original design proposal, the six-lane crossing was built of steel girders with poured-in-place concrete with a single 360-foot inverted Y-shaped concrete tower, with the deck supported by 26 paired cables. By 1993, the final segment of the 4½-mile US Route 22 freeway was completed to Harmon Creek Road, finishing a high-speed link from Cadiz, Ohio to the Pittsburgh International Airport in Pennsylvania at the cost of $125 million, one of the most expensive projects ever undertaken by the state of West Virginia.

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