To bring someone to the table, sometimes you have to have a lawyer handling the reservation. The city of Bluefield, W.Va., wants a solution for the Grant Street Bridge, which has been closed for months. Norfolk Southern owns the span, and after being unresponsive is now ready to begin talks with city officials.
Back on Sept. 22, board members approved a move to prepare a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern. The Class 1 railroad constructed the bridge back in 1941 and rehabbed it in 1992, but since June 2019 nobody has been able to cross the bridge, forcing commuters to take a narrow and dangerous road as an alternative route. Due to deterioration over the years, Bluefield’s Department of Highways recommended the bridge closure because of safety concerns. The lawsuit would force Norfolk Southern’s obligation to take care of the situation. An agreement with the city in 1940 held the Class 1 responsible for the steel superstructure and masonry supports.
The bridge connects the East End and North Side to Princeton Avenue and crosses over Norfolk Southern tracks.
The city also approved a Grant Street Bridge Necessity Scope of Services study with an engineering firm so it can be determined what exactly needs to be done to the bridge. The city says there are two major infrastructure issues that need to be worked out with the railroad.
A task force also has been created, but Norfolk Southern has not yet sent a representative to any of the task force meetings.
Back in July 2019, Norfolk Southern said the Department of Highways closed the bridge after only inspecting the northern section of the structure, which is not on railroad property. The Class 1 was waiting for a detailed inspection of the two spans that cross railroad property to determine the full extent of the bridge’s condition.
Norfolk Southern, however, has been quiet since then, but now appears to be ready to move forward.