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City of Bluefield filing lawsuit against Norfolk Southern Corporation after ‘silence’ in relation to Grant Street Bridge

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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA)- The City of Bluefield is currently planning to file a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern Corporation due to the closure of Grant Street Bridge.

That bridge remains closed and the city and citizens have yet to see the railroad come to the table to talk about a solution.

"Unfortunately I have no choice whatsoever, no other means of getting the railroads to even sit down and talk to us other than filing a lawsuit. We've been very patient, the citizens have been patient and we were hoping to do something as partners and come up with a solution to this problem but silence is not partnership, it is not cooperation it is not acceptable to me or the citizens here," City of Bluefield, WV, Attorney, Colin Cline said.

Historical records dated in 1940 reveal a promise by the Railroad Company to maintain the steel superstructure and masonry supports of the Grant Street Bridge, while the city promised to maintain the timber flooring, roadway, sidewalk and handrails.

"If they've got some kind of document, or something that relieves them or their responsibility for that bridge I'd love to see it. But it's not in any of our documents and they're not communicating with us about the bridge at all," Cline said.

Cline says the city is ready to figure out how to live up to their part of the agreement, but when it comes to Norfolk Southern Corporation crickets and silence is not golden in this situation.

The Grant Street Bridge shutdown without notice in June 2019, when an inspection by Department of Highways deemed the span unsafe for travel.

Residents say they are on board with the city's move to take lawsuit action.

"I'm all for the city suing. I think that should've been a while back. I'm glad to see that they are moving forward. If the bridge belongs to the railroads we expect the railroads to step forward and do their duties," Bluefield Resident, Pamela Jeffery's said.

"They don't mind charging us taxes, but they surly mind us complaining about this," Bluefield Resident, John Riescher said.

"I was so happy this morning when I opened the newspaper and saw that the city was finally taking action on our behalf," Bluefield Resident, Blanche Morton said.

Residents say the detour they're forced to take adds three miles on a dangerous road when they make a trip into town.

"I can't predict anything, I can't predict how long the lawsuit is going to last, I can't predict what the outcome is going to be, or how long it's going to take. I can't sit here and promise anyone that this is going to be a magic bullet for fixing that bridge. The only thing I can tell you and tell the citizens is that this is the last resort we have because otherwise we're going to be sitting here having the same discussions a year from now wondering when the railroad is going to talk to us. Based on what I've see over the past year, I think that's never. So unfortunately this is what we have to do," Cline said.

WVVA has reached out to Norfolk Southern Corporation, they have yet to comment on this issue.

Star Connor

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