CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Though she doesn't like to, Cheryl Thomas crosses the Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge that spans St. Albans and Nitro about once a day.
"I don't like to cross it unless I absolutely have to," Thomas, a St. Albans city council member, said. "You get stopped on it and it shakes."
But with a mother, daughter, son-in-law and grandsons who live on the Nitro side plus a bank in the neighboring community, crossing the 79-year-old bridge is a must, and she does it.
St. Albans residents and community leaders who gathered Saturday morning at the Roadside Park had a similar attitude about the bridge's upcoming months-long closure: they may not like it, but it has to be done.
"I guess it's like going to the dentist," former St. Albans mayor Richard Milam said. "You have to do it but you don't like it."
The bridge will close Monday until later this year while the state Department of Transportation makes renovations, which will include reinforcing its existing piers and replacing the structure that carries traffic across the span.
The new structure will have three lanes, 6-foot-wide shoulders and 5-foot-wide sidewalks.
Among the concerns in the community are that businesses on both sides of the bridge that depend on traffic from the other side will suffer with no quick way between the cities.
Milam said the bridge was closed for repairs during the 1970s. During that time the businesses survived, though they didn't thrive.
Business owners are "apprehensive" about the bridge closure, Milam said.
Saturday's event, sponsored by the St. Albans Partnership and the city's historical society, aimed to remind people that just because the bridge will close doesn't mean the city will, Dale Withrow, president of the Partnership, said.
"We're still open for business," Withrow said. "It's a great time to rediscover St. Albans. We've got everything that you'll need. Just because you can't get across the bridge doesn't mean you can't get down here."
The bridge was built in 1934 and was a toll bridge for 10 years. During that time there was also a ferry across the river that was less expensive than the bridge, Neil Richardson, an officer with the St. Albans Historical Society, said.
The historical society displayed pictures of the bridge throughout the years as well as a program from the bridge's opening. When the new structure opens later this year, the historical society plans to do a new program, he said.
When it was built, it was the only bridge on the Kanawha River from Charleston to Pt. Pleasant, Richardson said.