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Market Street Bridge

Market Street Bridge

Market Street Bridge carries WV Route 2 Spur and Market Street over the Ohio River between Steubenville, Ohio, and Brooke County, West Virginia. The wire suspension bridge, fitted with Warren through trusses, was constructed in 1905 by the Ohio Steel Erection Company and the Penn Bridge Company of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. It was rehabilitated in 1981 and 2011.



The origin of the Market Street Bridge came when Steubenville businessman Dohrman Sinclair made a deal with the Follansbee brothers of West Virginia, that if Sinclair built the bridge, the Follansbee’s would construct a tin mill directly across the river. 1 Sinclair’s Tri-State Traction Company streetcars would provide transportation for mill workers in a mutually beneficial arrangement.

The project was part of a scheme to connect East Liverpool with Steubenville, Wellsburg, Wheeling and other cities down the Ohio River by the means of an interurban. 3 In November 1902, the Wellsburg, Steubenville & New Cumberland Street Railway (WS&NC) was incorporated in West Virginia. 5 The WS&NC was proposed to connect with the Northern Ohio Valley Railway 6 under construction between Wheeling and Wellsburg, and follow the river north to Chester, connecting with the East Liverpool & Rock Springs Street Railway.

The route was eventually constructed by the Tri-State Railway Company in 1904, later known as the Steubenville, Wellsburg & Weirton Railway, from Wellsburg north to Steubenville. 6 The line was extended north to Weirton in 1906. In 1917, West Penn Railways took over operations, later operating under lease by the Wheeling Traction Company.

Part of the proposal for the WS&NC included the construction of an interurban bridge over the Ohio River in Steubenville. 3 It would be situated at the foot of the Middle Ferry on Market Street. 5 On the West Virginia side, the interurban would connect to a north-south line stretching from Chester south to Wellsburg and Wheeling. 4 One of the promoters of the bridge, James Newell of the Newell Land Company, was also actively involved in a similar undertaking on a bridge between East Liverpool, Ohio and Chester, West Virginia.


Sinclair hired E.K. Morse to design a bridge over the Ohio River between Steubenville and West Virginia, where streetcar routes, operated by the Tri-State Traction Company, Wheeling Traction System and the West Penn Traction Company, would connect to various communities along the river. 1 The contractors selected for the crossing was the Ohio Steel Erection Company and the Penn Bridge Company.

Construction of the new Steubenville bridge began in early October 1903. 4 By October 20, a number of dredge boats and other watercraft from Pittsburgh arrived at the bridge site, followed by stone masons six days later. It was expected that the new Steubenville bridge would be open by December 1904.

On March 3, 1904 at 2 a.m., the steamboat Virginia struck the submerged pier of the new bridge. 2 The boat was backing out into the river from the wharf when the starboard side struck the pier, leaving a ten foot hole in the hull. The boat began to sink in deep water. Owing to the boat’s short distance from the shore, the Virginia was brought in. About 60 passengers who were on board scrambled on the shoreline who were later picked up by the steamboat Kanawha.

The new bridge was completed in 1905. The new crossing consisted of a 1,794 main wire suspension bridge with a stiffening Warren through truss, two deck girder spans, and a five-span Warren through truss.


By 1922, the Market Street Bridge was experiencing structural failure due to overloaded freight cars. 1 Specifically, the top chord of the bridge failed. Engineer David B. Steinman, designer of the Mackinac Bridge, visited the crossing and numerous recommended repairs and modifications to the structure, which were implemented. Other major repairs to the Market Street Bridge were conducted from 1940 and 1941 that included the replacement of the stiffening truss over the river and the removal of the drocative finales atop the towers at a cost of $400,000 by the state of West Virginia. 7 9

At the completion of the work, the bridge’s ownership transferred from the Steubenville Bridge Company to the state on January 1, 1942 for $1.3 million. 1 7 The deal included the state’s sale of 3% bonds to a syndicate headed by Stranahan & Harris of Cincinnati. 7 The bonds were to be redeemed by tolls. The state estimated that the tolls would be repaid in 12 years, which were removed in 1953. 1

A major rehabilitation project was undertaken in 2009 and 2010 funded by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. 8 9 The design team, Burgess & Niple, expedited plans for the renovation to just ten weeks 9 in order to meet financing deadlines, with field work beginning on June 1, 2009. Design work began on June 14 and a bid for construction was submitted on August 31 and let in November.

Construction began by Ahern & Associates in 2010. 8 9 During the renovation, over 30,000 pounds of new structural steel was added to the towers. 8 Additionally, the stiffening trusses were strengthened by reattaching the plates with continuous welding instead of intermittent, and some rocker post bearings were replaced with more modern and maintenance-free materials. 9 The floor beams and stringers were also replaced. The bridge was then coated with a penetrating calcium sulfonate paint that was designed to stay plastic and self-heal over time.

The project was completed in 2011 9 at a cost of $13.741 million with $1.112 million in change orders. 8



  • State: Ohio, West Virginia
  • Route: Market Street
  • Type: Wire Suspension
  • Status: Active - Automobile
  • Total Length: 1,794 feet
  • Main Span Length: 700 feet
  • Spans:
  • Deck Width: 20.7 feet
  • Height: 210 feet
  • Above Vertical Clearance: 11 feet


  1. Holth, Nathan. “Market Street Bridge.”, article.
  2. “Steamer Virginia Struck and Her Hull Stoven In.” Evening Review [East Liverpool], 3 Mar. 1904, p. 1.
  3. “A Street Railway Line to Extend Up the River from Steubenville Here.” Evening Review [East Liverpool], 12 Dec. 1902, pp. 1-5.
  4. “Bridge Plans Progressing.” Evening Review [East Liverpool], 21 Oct. 1903, p. 1.
  5. “Proposed Trolley Line Chester to Wellsburg.” Evening Review [East Liverpool], 22 Nov. 1902, p. 1.
  6. Fluharty, Linda Cunningham. “Virtual Wheeling Area Trolley Museum.” West Virginia GenWeb, article.
  7. “West Virginia Buys Span.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 1 Jan. 1942, p. 38.
  8. “Market Street Bridge.” West Virginia Department of Transportation, presentation.
  9. Moosmann, Kari. “REHABILITATING AND BEAUTIFYING AN AGING BRIDGE.” Civil + Structural Engineer, 29 Jan. 2014, article.

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