The bridge, which was built in 1941, has been closed since June 2019, leaving motorists with a lengthy detour.
Brayman Construction was appointed in spring 2021 to carry out a US$8.1 million contract to dismantle the old bridge and replace it with a new structure.
An agreement brought together federal, state and local funding to replace the structure, which was jointly owned by Norfolk Southern Corporation and the city of Bluefield. Under the agreement, Norfolk Southern agreed to turn over ownership of the bridge to the city of Bluefield, and agreed to give city officials US$500,000 as local match funding for construction. The West Virginia Division of Highways agreed to manage the project, with US$8 million in funding from the Federal Highway Administration and US$2 million in funding from state sources.
Demolition of the existing bridge started this week and is set to take about seven months. The way that the bridge was originally built means that it needs to be disassembled one piece at a time.
The new bridge, built on the same footprint as the existing span, will be 100m long. Construction is expected to take about six months.