CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — On the grounds of the state’s capitol building, State Senator Stephen Baldwin, Department of Transportation officials, engineers and concerned Kanawha Falls locals, including Aaron Valentine, met Friday morning to discuss the destiny of the Kanawha Falls Bridge.
“It’s very important for the community to be involved and represented in these discussions,” Valentine said. “Prior to today, we had very little involvement about the project and what was being discussed.”
The gathering was organized to follow a much more emotional meeting that took place in May, where angry residents confronted Division of Highways officials who proposed two different projects that would create two alternate routes around the bridge, instead of repairing the bridge that has been closed since last November.
“The last meeting was the worst meeting I’ve ever been a part of in my entire life,” Senator Baldwin recalled. “It was brutal and this was much better. “
Baldwin said trying to get federal funding is the next step in making a project feasible.
“If we’re going to rebuild or build a new bridge, we’ve got to have money to do that,” Baldwin said. “The state folks have been pretty clear that they can’t fit the bill alone, so we’re gonna go and ask for federal dollars.”
For some locals, this means there is hope, but others, like John Hovey, remain unconvinced.
“We feel like it’s a form of corruption,” Hovey said. “This is such an easy fix and we do not understand why they don’t have the will to serve the people.”
While finding the money is a key ‘next step,’ Baldwin said communication between agencies is vital to fixing the situation.
Hovey and other locals say they are planning a protest and need your support. To learn more about their plans for action, you can add him on Facebook at John Hovey.