The Dunbar-South Charleston Bridge, commonly known as the Dunbar Toll Bridge, was initially constructed as a tolled crossing by the city of Dunbar, West Virginia, in 1953. Its purpose was to link the emerging suburban area of Dunbar with the industrial hubs of South Charleston and enhance connectivity between US 60 and WV 25. Despite its strategic location, the bridge faced financial difficulties from its inception and struggled to meet its monetary obligations. It failed to pay the bond principal and had to resort to alternative sources to meet the semi-annual interest payments. The state’s acquisition of the bridge was contemplated as early as 1968 but met resistance from taxpayer interest groups.
However, with the construction of Interstate 64 in the vicinity, traffic on the bridge witnessed a surge, allowing the bridge to make its first payment of revenue bonds without assistance in November 1970. Nevertheless, there were concerns about the impact of the upcoming completion of a new toll-free Kanawha River bridge for Interstate 64. As expected, traffic on the Dunbar-South Charleston Bridge decreased by 50% after the completion of Interstate 64 in June 1974.
Eventually, the bridge was sold to the state, and the tolls were removed in 1980.