BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS) — Since the Grant Street bridge in Bluefield, WV was condemned in the summer, people who live on the east end of the city are essentially isolated from the rest of their community.
The WV DOH inspection report that recommended Grant Street bridge be condemned, stated the bridge was in critical condition — from damage and corrosion over time. Thursday morning, the Grant St bridge task force, made up of city administrators, residents, and engineers assessed the condition and ownership of the bridge and discussed options: repair the bridge or demolish and replace it.
City engineer, Kerry Stauffer, said, “From an engineering stand point, I think my opinion it would be best to replace the structure in its entirety.”
Engineers pointed out multiple parts of the bridge which they called fracture critical, meaning if one piece failed the whole thing would collapse.
No question the bridge is a hazard but its closure in the summer is still disrupting the lives of Bluefield residents.
Deloris French, east end representative, said, “I used to just get somebody to take me across the bridge… now I’m having to pay for that.”
It is an issue city leaders like city manager Dane Rideout are determined to resolve. The problem is, Norfolk Southern still owns the bridge, and their seat at the table was empty.
“Right now Norfolk Southern I think is still in the analysis portion of that. I hope.. and I sent this link, this was live streamed, to Norfolk Southern’s communications department as well as their representation I think they’ll get a pretty good idea of what the challenges are and what they need to do to proceed,” said Rideout.
City administrators are not yet in a position to make a call on the bridge, but they now have an idea of what they can do from here. The city needs a feasibility study, outside legal council, to explore funding options, and to bring it to elected officials.
The next task force meeting will be April 9, 2020. In the meantime, you can submit comments, suggestions, and concerns to the task force to firstname.lastname@example.org