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Police: Pay attention to rules concerning Wheeling Suspension Bridge

Harsher fines and penalties will soon be enforced for drivers who don't pay attention to the rules concerning the Historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge (WTOV).

Harsher fines and penalties will soon be enforced for drivers who don't pay attention to the rules concerning the Historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge.

Overweight loads, crashes, and other issues have plagued the suspension bridge for several years. Five times in the last year the bridge has been shut down for different issues.

A few weeks ago, law enforcement, the West Virginia Division of Highways, inspectors, and other interested parties met DOH headquarters in Moundsville to talk about the bridge.

"We teamed up in this meeting and decided to have an honest discussion about what we can do to preserve this bridge," Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said.

Wheeling police, West Virginia State Police, and the Ohio County Sheriff's Department have been working to educate the public on the 2-ton weight limit. They have been handing out flyers explaining some history and the stiff fines and penalties you face if you break the laws.

Schwertfeger says his officers have been making an effort to better patrol the bridge.

"We have gotten some feedback from citizens to further increase the awareness so we don't have a bus or large truck try and cross the bridge," he said.

Meanwhile, plans are still in place for a lengthy project to repair parts of the structure and replace the lighting. This project will cost between $8 million and $10 million, according to DOH, and could take 1-3 years. That's why the chief says it is important the bridge is preserved now, and later.

"I think it is worth it in the long run, and hopefully, we will make an impact and the bridge will be saved," Schwertfeger said.

The chief also says the bridge is an important route for safety and residents. He's hoping the two-pronged educational and enforcement approach will help.

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