UPDATE: Norfolk Southern releases statement to Grant Street Bridge Task Force

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BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS) —8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, UPDATE: Norfolk Southern released a letter to the Grant Street Bridge Task Force on Sunday.

In the letter, they announced their involvement with the City of Bluefield to restore the Grant Street Bridge. They said their commitment dates back to an 80-year-old agreement between Norfolk Southern and the City of Bluefield.

In the release, Norfolk Southern said they looked at two other options to restore access between downtown Bluefield, the North Side and East End neighborhoods.

“These alternatives included demolishing the existing structure and constructing a new bridge; or
extending existing public streets to link Wayne Street and Roanoke or Hardy Streets via a
newly constructed public road. The latter alternative would use the northern edge of
Norfolk Southern’s property between these streets, ultimately linking with the new
Martin Luther King Jr. bridge near Pulaski and Roanoke Streets.”

Norfolk Southern said after much consideration it is clear that the option to fix the bridge would require a longer development time.

“Norfolk Southern has no contractual obligations under the 1940 maintenance agreement to build a new bridge or to construct additional access roads for the City.”

Since Norfolk has no obligation to help with construction of a new bridge, they believe the best, quickest and cheapest way is to make the necessary fixes to the current bridge. Norfolk Southern is willing to discuss different options, but their financial help will be capped at the limit of their maintenance responsibility for the fixes needed for the current bridge.

They want to let the people of Bluefield know they understand their frustrations by the current situation and hope to have a solution soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. UPDATE: BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS)– People in the Grant Street area of Bluefield could soon see some movement in their fight for repairs to a much needed bridge. The Mayor of Bluefield released a statement saying representatives with Norfolk Southern reached out to discuss the future of the Grant Street Bridge.

Residents like Danny Wright who live in the area tell us they’re happy to see something happening after such a long process.

“I feel better,” Wright said. “But everything that they say you know doesn’t bare fruit sometimes so we would like to have a seat at the table to see exactly what they say because it seems like no one is at the table to share our interest.”

Wright and many others are out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to demonstrate their concerns about the bridge. The next city board meeting is scheduled for October 27th.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. UPDATE: BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS) — Norfolk Southern and the city of Bluefield are beginning talks over the future of the Grant Street Bridge.

Mayor Ron Martin said the railway company approached city administrators following the September 22 meeting to begin “serious, substantive discussions” about the bridge and its ongoing closure.

“While we can not guarantee a successful end to these negotiations, we believe that they have approached us in good faith,” Martin said. “We hope that, together, we will be able to forge a path forward for the Grant Street Bridge and be able to once again connect the residents of the East End and North Side with the rest of our community.”

As a result, administrators decided to table action on the lawsuit to allow negotiations between the city and Norfolk Southern.

Martin said they hope to have more information at the next board meeting, which is scheduled for October 27.

Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. UPDATE: BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS) — The city of Bluefield is filing a lawsuit in hopes of getting answers about the Grant Street Bridge closure.

City Attorney Colin Cline said the city is filing a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern over the Grant Street Bridge. For more than a year, the city tried to get representatives with railroad to sit down and discuss the bridge closure. Now, Cline said they have to take legal action.

“They have not given us any indication as to what their plans are,” Cline said. “They’ve refused our invitations to our bridge task force meetings and they haven’t communicated with us in any way about the Grant Street Bridge since July of this year. So unfortunately we don’t have really any options left.”

Cline said he is in the process of writing up the proposal and hopes to have the final draft done by the next city council meeting.

BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS) — The Grant Street Bridge Task Force held a meeting in Bluefield to hear pitches from several companies. The meeting was held on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.

The company that was chosen will have to do a feasibility study on either the repair or replacement of the bridge. If neither are possible, they will look at alternatives.

Colin Cline, Bluefield City Attorney, said their first goal is to still repair or replace the bridge.

“We’ll have input from all the stakeholders about which firm they prefer, and then assuming that we select one, we’ll then enter into price negotiations for the study with that firm, and then reduce that to a written contract for approval by the city’s board of directors,” Cline explained.

Each task force member ranked the presentations during the meeting, and those rankings will be put before the city’s Board of Directors at their next meeting. Cline said once a company is chosen by the Board, price negotiations will start.


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