ST. ALBANS, W.Va. -- In 1934, at the urging of the St. Albans Businessmen's Association, the city of St. Albans financed construction of a toll bridge over the Kanawha River linking Nitro and W.Va. 25 with St. Albans and U.S. 60.
For the next 10 years, the $328,000 bridge competed with a nearby ferry that charged a lower toll. But the new span succeeded in bringing more business into St. Albans, while giving Charleston-bound commuters a new route into the capital city.
On Monday, the Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge will close, and contractors will begin removing concrete from its deck. Later, the span's metal superstructure will be cut in sections and dropped into the Kanawha, where it will be loaded in barges and hauled off for recycling. A new bridge will be built upon the piers of the 1934 span.
When longtime National Weather Service meteorologist and St. Albans resident Alan Rezek learned of the bridge's planned demolition shortly before he retired in December 2011, he decided to document its last year of service. An amateur photographer, Rezek took hundreds of images of the span from numerous angles, through all seasons and all varieties of weather.
"If you live in St. Albans and work in Charleston, there are two ways to get to work -- go up MacCorkle, or cross the bridge" and connect with Interstate 64, Rezek said. "I crossed the bridge almost every time I went to Charleston."
While Rezek thought he was familiar with the bridge after crossing it thousands of time going to and from work, "I saw things about it that I'd never noticed before when I began photographing it," he said.
"For instance, I didn't realize what a big part the bridge plays in the lives of birds, and I'd never really seen the bridge from below" until starting the photo documentation project.
The replacement span for the old bridge is expected to open to traffic in November.