Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston, P.E., met with community members today in Spencer to officially dedicate the new four-lane Col. Ruby Bradley Memorial Bridge.
Construction was made possible with funding from Gov. Jim Justice’s Roads to Prosperity program.
“This is West Virginia,” Wriston said. “A town like Spencer could be anywhere in the state. It has the same values.”
|Because of the almost constant traffic across the bridge, the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) and contractors Rock Forge Bridge Company of Amma came up with an innovative plan to replace the bridge. “We faced a lot of challenges because we still had to deal with all that traffic,” Wriston said. “The iron men of Rock Forge, they got this done.”|
The bridge is named for Spencer native Ruby Bradley, one of the most highly decorated women in the history of the United States military. An Army nurse, Bradley was captured in the Philippines in the early days of World War II, Bradley cared for fellow prisoners and came to be known as one of the “Angels in Fatigues.” Bradley went on to lead nurses during the Korean War and retired from the army as a colonel in 1963.
“Having Ruby Bradley’s name on this bridge and downtown is an honor to our community,” said Spencer Mayor Terry Williams. “This here today shows how a project works right. Right in the middle of our downtown.”
Built in 1932, the Colonel Ruby Bradley Bridge carries US 33 across Spring Creek at the intersection of US 33 and US 119. It is one of the busiest intersections in Roane County.
“What a miracle,” said U.S. Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., who has been following the progress of the bridge project since its inception. “I’m just excited to be here.”
Replacing the aging bridge had been in discussion for years. In September 2020, Gov. Justice awarded Rock Forge Bridge Company, of Amma, a contract for $5.8 million to rebuild the Colonel Ruby Bradley Bridge.
Rock Forge both designed and built the new, four-lane bridge, which was designed to resemble the original structure.
Rock Forge first built a new bridge just upstream of the old span. When the new bridge was finished, traffic was shifted onto the new structure and the old bridge was torn down.
Then, in a two-day blitz beginning on the evening of Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, Rock Forge began sliding the new bridge onto the abutments of the old bridge, a few inches at a time. Rock Forge would slide the bridge a few inches, reopen the bridge to traffic, then move the bridge another few inches.
Dennis James, of Rock Forge, said the company faced a number of challenges in moving the bridge, including how to come up with a way to reduce the friction beneath the massive span to scoot it into place. They hit upon an environmentally-friendly lubricant, Dawn dishwashing liquid.
“We used dishwashing liquid, water and a mop,” James said.
Work was done at night to minimize the impact on traffic.