Dedication of Bridge at Wayne

Wayne County News
October 21, 1971

New Wayne Bridge Is Dedicated

After nearly 13 months of eating dust on Asbury Road and dodging holes and skirting the creek bank on Craig Road, the residents of Wayne had the privilege of crossing the new Wayne bridge last Friday.

On hand to dedicate the new span were Gov. Arch A. Moore, Jr., and Highways Commissioner William S. Ritchie, Jr.

The bridge replaces the Brinkley Bridge which collapsed Sept. 22, 1970, under the weight of an overloaded tractor-trailer rig.

The old bridge was named for newscaster David Brinkley after he ridiculed the rickety, noisy span on nationwide television during the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy.

Gov. Moore indicated during the dedication ceremonies that the state had lived long enough with the embarrassment of Brinkley's comments and that the new bridge would not carry the newscaster's name.

"For a decade this state has lived with the mark of that bridge," the governor told his audience. "But now we are living in a different time, a different age."

He concluded his brief address by saying that no official decision has been made about what to call the bridge. "But this will not be the Brinkley Bridge," he said with emphasis and to loud applause.

The governor told how he had discussed the problem of the one-way bridges on U.S. 52 with the highway commissioner and early last year had asked Ritchie to build a new, two-lane span to replace the Brinkley Bridge. The plans were nearly complete for the new structure when the old bridge collapsed, he said.

The governor said that on the drive to Wayne that day he again had noted the three narrow bridges remaining on U.S. 52 He said he has wanted to replace all of them but this has been one of the things he has been unable to accomplish.

Noting that State Sen. Robert R. Nelson of Wayne and Cabell counties was in the audience, he said he had asked the legislature for a program to take care of the bridge problem but " has not yet taken this action."

Nelson later indicated that he would be willing to take action on having the new structure officially named the Brinkley Bridge.

"If the majority of the people of the area is in favor of retaining the Brinkley name, I would be willing to introduce a bill or resolution in the Senate making the name official," he said. "But there would have to be a real groundswell among the people and the movement would have to be above the level of partisan politics," the senator added.

He said he doubted a bill naming the bridge could be passed over the governor's veto and that a resolution simply expressing the will of the legislature might be more feasible.

But the first steps would have to be taken at the local levels of government with the town council and county court adopting resolution expressing their desire to retain the Brinkley name Nelson said.

Congressman Ken Hechler also spoke during the dedication and read a congratulatory telegram to the town from Brinkley which said "best wishes to Wayne for obtaining a bridge that will not rattle and will not collapse, but will remain a monument to West Virginia, its leaders and people."

Gov. Moore also announced that the town council of Wayne is in the process of deeding the right-of-way of Railroad Avenue, which passes by the new county health center, to the state road system. When the legal technicalities are cleared, the street will be rebuilt into a first class highway, the governor said.

Fred Justice, representing the Wayne Chamber of Commerce, was master of ceremonies for the dedication, and Wayne Mayor D. C. Morris gave a welcoming address for the governor. Renick Booth of the Wayne Area Jaycees lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Also on the speakers' stand were Mrs. Hazel Crum, president of the Wayne Women's Clyb, and Mrs. Ottie Mae Perdue, director of the Southwestern District of W. Va., Federation of Women's Clubs.

Mrs. Perdue later released a statement praising Fred Justice "for the efficient way he organized the ceremony." The dedication was jointly sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees and Women's Club.