CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Usually when Mary Anne Legg needs to replace the taillight on her car it's not that big of a deal.
But Monday marked the first day of the Nitro-St. Albans bridge closure, and Legg, of Nitro, needed to go to the Advance Auto Parts store across the river.
"It sucks," she said. "I had to go all the way down and around for a $2 light bulb. It probably cost me $5 in gas."
The bridge will be closed until November 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.
During the closure, motorists must take a 9.5-mile detour to the Nitro exit of Interstate 64, or a 12-mile detour to the bridge between Dunbar and Spring Hill. There's no other quick way between the cities.
On Monday at about 3 p.m., the W.Va. 817 detour into St. Albans was backed up for miles, as construction made the road one lane for several hours near Anne Bailey Elementary School.
"It's better than ending up in the water," Legg noted, however.
The deteriorating bridge, officially known as the Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge, has been a longtime safety concern. It was built in 1934, and although the traffic routine will take some getting used to, residents seem happy to see it getting fixed.
"It will make everyone feel a lot more safe," said Michelle Taylor, of Nitro. "They've got to do it."
On Monday, even though there were large flashing signs notifying motorists the bridge would close at 6 a.m. and orange signs planted in the ground noting detours, Cpl. C.A. Nutter of the Nitro Police Department said plenty of people had to turn around after seeing the barricade at the foot of the bridge.
"It hasn't been as bad as I thought it would," Nutter said despite the few mishaps.