BLUEFIELD, WV (WOAY) – The City of Bluefield took a step towards resolving issues with the Grant Street Bridge this week.
The Bluefield Board of Directors approved a contract with E.L. Robinson that will allow them to conduct a necessity study on the Grant Street Bridge issue inside of the city limits. While there were a couple of hurdles to overcome, ultimately the contract was passed.
“This was a little difficult for us because we don’t own the bridge,” said Bluefield City Manager Dane Rideout. “It’s owned by a private corporation, Norfolk Southern. We had to be very careful spending taxpayers’ moneys on a study. We want to do a feasibility study, which is sort of a normal industry term.”
The original figures exceeded the Board’s budget, but the label of “Necessity Study” ultimately allowed them to fund the contract. The study will examine the costs to repair, replace or demolish the bridge, in addition to other key factors.
“It’s also going to take a hard look at the socio-economics that are impacted by that bridge,” Rideout said. “Community members that are impacted. How the city is impacted by that bridge being closed or not being there.”
The Board is hoping that the results of the study will bring it closer to a solution for a problem that has lasted over a year. Rideout understands that some might be upset about the length of this project, but the Board is currently in a difficult situation.
“We physically cannot spend taxpayers’ money on a private piece of property that we don’t own,” Rideout said. “We have to be really careful in how we navigate this so we do everything legal, ethical and moral. That’s up front.
The study will involve public engagement, allowing citizens to offer input and concerns on both the functionality of the bridge as well as the impact on the community. The full “Necessity Study” for the Grant Street Bridge can be located on the City of Bluefield’s website.