STEUBENVILLE – An official with the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle said Wednesday the planned new Ohio River bridge should be four lanes, not three as planned, to accommodate an anticipated increase in development around the former Wheeling Corrugating Plant. “The activity in that area is going to be significant and the bridge is going to be a major component,” BDC Assistant Director Marvin Six told the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Commission Wednesday. Six noted Energy Solutions Consortium is eyeing an area near the plant for two natural gas-fueled power plants, amounting to a potential investment of $800 million. Article Photos BRIDGE?DISCUSSED — Mike Paprocki, left, executive director of the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, on Wednesday responded to questions from the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle about a planned new Ohio River bridge between Brilliant and an area south of Wellsburg. To his right are Wellsburg City Manager Mark Henne, who chairs the commission; and Linda Taylor, BHJ office manager. — Warren Scott Officials with the company said each plant could bring up to 60 jobs with salaries of $80,000 as well as hundreds of jobs involved in constructing them, estimating the development could have an economic impact of more than $8 billion. Six acknowledged the firm is considering two other sites and must secure various permits before construction may begin. But he added, “Even if the power plants aren't located there, the site will be a very active one.” Six noted since the plant was purchased by Hackman Capital Partners in 2012, the plant has become home to four businesses, including Jupiter Aluminum, which entered into a 10-year lease and invested $8 million so it could use the plant's paint line. Hackman and BDC entered into an agreement in which Hackman retains rights to the 480,000 square foot building, while the BDC owns land at the 650-acre site. Six noted one of three natural gas-related industries at the site has made plans to build a new facility on its former parking lot. An effort to reduce costs for the proposed span, which is slated to extend from Brilliant to an area about a mile south of Wellsburg, and projected traffic levels for that area were cited by state highway officials in Ohio and West Virginia as reasons for building a three-lane bridge. Plans call for it to include two through lanes and a center turn lane that may be used when the other lanes are closed for construction or inspections. Elwood Penn, the West Virginia Department of Transportation's liaison to BHJ, noted it's been said a planned fourth lane for bicyclists could be converted for traffic “but once you have a bicycle lane, you don't want to take it out.” Mike Paprocki, BHJ executive director, said the bicycle lane will create its own economic boost by offering travelers to Brooke and Jefferson counties another mode of transportation. Paprocki said having four lanes creates less impact on traffic when a bridge is being worked on. He said there's been talk of having shoulders 6 to 8 feet wide that could be converted to additional lanes. The West Viginia Department of Transportation plans to seek bids for the span in spring 2016. WVDOT plans to fund the project through a private-public partnership that will involve the contractor and design engineer fronting its cost, with the state reimbursing them with funds generated by bonds sold for it. Because of that, the contractor and its design engineer will be expected to propose the type of bridge it will build within certain conditions set by WVDOT.
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