Bridge Day Behind the Scenes: West Virginia Division Of Highways

There are lots of folks and organizations that come together to pull off a successful Bridge Day event.  This is the story of one of them. The West Virginia Division of Highways' Bridge Day role expanded after the 2001 event was canceled.  Prior to 2001, traffic on State Route 19 was funneled onto the southbound side of the Bridge, meaning inconvenience to thru traffic was fairly minimal.

The events of 9/11 led organizers and safety officials to reexamine how the event was handled. All Bridge Day festivals since then have had all normal traffic detoured around the Bridge for safety purposes, meaning that the WVDOH has an important role to play on event day.

Traffic Patterns

The DOH is responsible for marking the special traffic pattern that will be followed during Bridge Day. They place signs along the route itself and on all major roads that intersect the detour a few weeks before the event to alert local travelers of the change.

The central DOH office in Charleston oversees the installation of the fixed signage and the placement of electronic message boards. They also provide the gates used to close off areas around the Bridge that are off limits to all traffic except emergency and law enforcement vehicles.

Other Roles

The DOH has both a central office presence from Charleston and field office presence from its Fayette County office. The DOH has a seat on the Bridge Day Commission, which helps plan the event.

One of the most important roles of the entire festival is filled by the DOH Fayette County Office. They are responsible for picking up and removing all of the trash receptacles that are used during the day. This is a huge job, because thousands of people can generate a mountain of trash in just 8 hours.

Don Meadows, a representative from the central office, said that the DOH also fields requests from the BASE jump organizers for an alternative jump day.  In the case of inclement weather that would force the cancellation of the BASE jumping on Bridge Day itself, BASE jumpers still want to get their jumps in.

The DOH is another important cog in the Bridge Day gears. Stay tuned for more on Bridge Day behind-the-scenes.