Wheeling Suspension Bridge

Dear Friends of Wheeling Member: The Friends board has been concerned that overweight vehicles might still be using the Suspension, despite the recent tourbus scare. So this morning we conducted an informal traffic survey. Results are below. The bridge is a vital part of Wheeling’s history and heritage … its loss would be unimaginable. Please help protect it.

Informal Suspension Bridge Vehicle Survey

Conducted by Five Members of the Board of Directors of Friends of Wheeling

August 30, 2019, 8:00 a.m. – Noon

 The survey consisted of making tallies of all vehicles crossing the bridge during the 4-hour time span and indicating whether their “curb weights” (as found online) were over 2 tons or 4000 pounds. Nothing was added to account for passengers or other loads, despite the fact that the curb weights of several of the vehicles were within just a few pounds of the limit. 

Eastbound

410 vehicles74 overweight

Westbound

297 vehicles67 overweight

Total

707 vehicles141 overweight

 The totals show that approximately 20% of vehicles still crossing the Suspension Bridge are overweight. About 45% of the overweight vehicles had Ohio license plates.

A sampling of offenders included: Buick Enclave (4780 lbs), Cadillac Escalade (5459 lbs), Chevrolet Silverado (5148 lbs), Chevrolet Suburban (5607 lbs), Chrysler Town & Country (4336 lbs), Dodge Ram (4952-6342 lbs), Ford F150 (5115 lbs), Ford F450 (8290 lbs), GMC – various models (4404-5452 lbs), Jeep Grand Cherokee (4261 lbs), Toyota Sequoia (5680 lbs).

Needless to say, more needs to be done to protect the bridge. A few suggestions follow.

·      It was our understanding that, in addition to the 7’6” solid bar, chains extending at least another foot were to have been installed as a flexible warning. We ask that those be added immediately.

·      Friends of Wheeling and the City should mount a city-wide awareness campaign through media outlets, letting users know of the importance of the bridge and the need to self-monitor. [Note – vehicle weights can easily be found on car registration cards.]

·      It’s understandable that a police presence 24/7 isn’t possible. However, we suggest occasional ticketing that could serve as an effective deterrent, started immediately. 

The 170-year-old bridge is a National Historic Landmark and a National Engineering Landmark and predates the birth of the state. More that 150 years ago, Henry Clay referred to it as “Wheeling’s Rainbow,” and it’s a true symbol of our city. Its loss would be disastrous.

Signs don’t work. [We actually stopped one obviously overweight, Ohio pickup truck and let the driver know that his truck was overweight. He responded, “Oh, is there a sign saying that?”]

If abuse can’t be stopped, we ask that the bridge be closed permanently to vehicular traffic.

UPDATE: As of September 24th, the bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic for at least 1 year.