McCallister, who commutes to work from Huntington, said he wasn't forced to detour because of the closure. "But it sure did clog up the interstate, with all the traffic trying to get across there," he said.
Nitro Mayor Dave Casebolt and St. Albans Mayor Dick Callaway traded good-natured jabs at one another while simultaneously pointing out the bridge's importance to both communities. Casebolt said he was sure St. Albans residents would be happy the bridge was reopened so they could visit Nitro and sample the city's "fine dining, shopping and entertainment."
"You know where my office is?" Callaway said when it was his turn. "Come up and see me sometime.
"[The bridge] is a safe way to get to Nitro," he said. "More importantly, it's a safer way to get to St. Albans."
On a more serious note, both mayors stressed the importance of the bridge to the economic well-being and growth of both communities.
Visitors came from more than just St. Albans and Nitro for the bridge's reopening.
"I've had a lot of trips over this bridge," said Poca Mayor Jim Caruthers, who also attended the ceremony when the old bridge superstructure was blown up in March.
The new bridge is marked with pierced steel plates that can be read from the river and spell out "KANAWHA RIVER" in the center of the bridge and "NITRO" and "SAINT ALBANS" on the cities' respective sides of the bridge. The words are repeated in large letters on the inside of the bridge, where they can be seen by pedestrians and passing motorists.
The lettering is a nice touch, Caruthers said.
"It helps if you're inebriated," he quipped. "You'll know if you're on the right side."
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.