NITRO, W.Va. -- Mary Jo Young is as happy as anyone that the Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge is back open.
"My hairdresser is in Nitro," said Young, who lives off Coal River Road in St. Albans.
The bridge, which links sister cities Nitro and St. Albans, reopened Friday after being closed almost 10 months to have a new deck installed. West Virginia Highways officials decided to rebuild the bridge on its existing piers to save money and cut down the amount of time the bridge would be closed to the public.
The three-lane bridge reopened ahead of schedule and at about 25 percent of the cost of completely rebuilding it at a different location, said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Manchin, one of the keynote speakers at Friday's bridge dedication, said Highways officials worked with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and the state's congressional delegation to come up with a relatively inexpensive, efficient solution to replacing the Dick Henderson Bridge, which was erected in 1934.
"Common sense is not all that common in Washington," Manchin said. "We need to get more West Virginians up there."
State Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox said the bridge project showed what can be done when government officials work together. Department of Transportation spokesman Randy Damron said it didn't hurt the project that Mattox grew up in Nitro.
Reopening the bridge couldn't have come soon enough for many business owners on both sides of the Kanawha River.
"It's been slow on both sides," said Aaron Diehl, the third generation to run Diehl's Restaurant in Nitro. During construction, residents wanting to cross the river to their neighboring community faced at least a 12-mile detour.
Diehl, who has a significant customer base in St. Albans, said his dinner business was not seriously affected by the bridge closure but that most people didn't have time to make the 45-minute detour for their lunch hours.
"Before," he said, "you had to take a small vacation to go around and fight all the traffic."
On the St. Albans side of the river, black block letters spelled out the words "WELCOME BACK NITRO" on the illuminated sign outside Dwight's restaurant. Dwight's manager Mark McCallister said regular customers from Nitro who used to show up all the time visited Dwight's maybe once a week while the bridge was closed.