CITY OF BLUEFIELD, W.Va.(WVVA)- Let's get right to it- city officials are urging you to show your support for the Grant Street Bridge by putting your "John Hancock" where it matters most, on paper.
City Attorney Colin Cline wrote the 'Grant Street Bridge Petition' which will be presented to Norfolk Southern Corporation and elected officials, showing direct documentation from residents affected by the nine month bridge closure, particularly our neighbors living on the North End and East Side of Bluefield.
You have two options to ensure your voice is heard and on the record: by signing the petition in person inside of the City Hall Building at 200 Rogers Street, or by signing the petition online: https://www.change.org/p/norfolk-southern-corporation-repair-or-replace-bluefield-s-grant-street-bridge?recruiter=1045791768&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition
Per the petition on change.org:
"WE, PRESENT AND PAST CITIZENS AND RESIDENTS OF BLUEFIELD, WEST VIRGINIA, on behalf of ourselves, our fellow citizens, our children, and all future citizens and residents of Bluefield, hereby respectfully but insistently inform you of the following:
THE GRANT STREET BRIDGE in Bluefield West Virginia was built in 1941 through the cooperation of the former Norfolk & Western Railway and the City of Bluefield; and
THE GRANT STREET BRIDGE served for nearly eighty years as the principle and most convenient means by which residents of Bluefield’s East End and North Side communities reached downtown Bluefield for work, commerce and fellowship; and
THE GRANT STREET BRIDGE deteriorated to the point where it was deemed unsafe for traffic and was closed in June of 2019; and
THE GRANT STREET BRIDGE closure has harmed this community, especially the residents of the East End and North Side communities, separating those residents from their fellow citizens, and an injury to one of us is an injury to all of us."
"This issue is important to everyone in this community," said Cline. "Our community is split in half and we need to heal that division. Fixing or replacing the Grant Street Bridge is one way to [heal] this."
After a 2019 Division of Highways inspection revealed major structural deficiencies with the bridge, the city made the decision to close the bridge down.
Nine months later, Norfolk Southern Railway appears to be somewhat "missing in action," especially after choosing not to send a representative to the first Task Force Meeting in January, which was focused on finding solutions to fix the bridge.
Because Norfolk Southern owns the bridge superstructure, the city needs their level of participation to be on equal footing, so a solution can be reached.
Cline says their hope is the petition will bring more support from the railway in finding realistic ideas and creative solutions for fixing the bridge, in the immediate future.
"We hope they're going to understand and be willing to partner with us, come up with innovative solutions to get this bridge replaced or repaired," Cline said.