THE ATTEMPTED demolition of the Bellaire Toll Bridge has dragged on for years. Hopefully, there is light at the end of the tunnel for Benwood and Bellaire residents who have dealt with countless setbacks and endless frustration.
The U.S. judicial system may provide the impetus to make the long-awaited razing finally come to fruition. A federal judge ordered mediation in the case concerning the demolition of the bridge, noting the bridge's owner has failed to pay more than $60,000 in fines assessed by the court.
U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley has ordered bridge owner Lee Chaklos of Delta Demolition as well as Benwood city leaders to attend a July 16 session in his Columbus office.
Chaklos has been tardy in paying a $1,000-per-day fine which emanated on Feb. 11 when the court gave bridge owners KDC Investments and Delta Demolition 120 days - until June 20 - to secure the $1 million performance bond needed to obtain the permit. Otherwise, the span's owner would face a $1,000-per-day fine.
The fines have amassed to more than $60,000 and Chaklos has not met those court-mandated obligations. Meanwhile, Benwood officials have since reduced the requested bond amount to $500,000 cash.
It all adds up to demolition gridlock.
Both parties now must submit their ideas for a possible resolution in writing to the judge by July 10.
We commend Judge Marbley for bringing the opposing sides together. If both parties are sincere in bringing the bridge down, the July 16 mediation meeting may prove the best bet yet to making the bridge's demolition become a reality.