Parts of the Silver Bridge recovered

POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- More than 50 years after the Silver Bridge collapsed, killing 46 people, some of the final pieces of its deck have finally been recovered.

More than 50 years after the Silver Bridge collapsed into the Ohio River, killing 46 people, some of the final pieces of its deck have finally been recovered.

Workers for the West Virginia Department of Highways were hard at work earlier this week collecting concrete decking, grid panels and light posts from the Ohio side of the river.

"That's our sole mission, to keep the public safe when they are crossing our bridges," West Virginia state bridge engineer Tracy Brown said. "So what we want to do is bring that debris that we got here and present it in some fashion that future generations will see it and they will remember that mistakes can't happen in our line of work."

Brown was first informed of the previously unknown bridge parts during the 50th anniversary of the collapse when Terry Burnett approached him to assist with an item on her bucket list. The property the pieces were recovered from has been in her family for decades. It's just outside of the original safety fence that was constructed after the bridge collapsed so the rubble was not collected by the National Transportation Safety Board during cleanup.

It took more than a year for Brown to get a permit to remove the concrete from the Ohio side of the Ohio River. All debris had already been removed from the Point Pleasant side of the river.

Removing it was very meaningful for Brown because he knows the importance of the debris for people in his line of work.

"It's like visiting the holy land for the Christian faith," Brown said. "That's where our work began and, you know, it's a very special place to us."

Some rubble may still be in the river, but all known debris from the collapse that's on land has now been collected. Brown plans on using the pieces to educate bridge inspectors of the importance of their work. The National Bridge Safety Inspection Program was created after an 8-inch crack brought down the Silver Bridge to ensure a similar incident never happens.