Glen Dale Residents Seek Help for Collapsing Bridge

Photo by Alan Olson Glen Dale residents are concerned about this collapsing bridge near St. Jude Park.

Marshall County residents flocked to the county commission Tuesday morning for an update on a collapsing bridge in Glen Dale, just behind St. Jude Park.

Commissioners met with representatives from the West Virginia Conservation Agency and the West Virginia Natural Resources Conservation Service, who spoke with the public about their concerns about the bridge. The span was once accessible only to passenger traffic, but is now closed entirely because one side fell into the creek due to heavy erosion. Traffic to the four homes on the far side of the bridge is now taking a path submerged in water over a concrete pad adjacent to the bridge, which locals are concerned will eventually be inaccessible in the event the bridge finally collapses.

Gene Saurborn, of the WVCA, said the timetable for securing permits and inspections should conclude by the end of spring, when they contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with construction designs.

“At that point, all we have to worry about is where the money’s coming from,” he said. “We do not have any authority over the bridge — only the approach to the bridge and some area below the bridge.”

He added that the designs for the new bridge would not incorporate the current one. Which entity owned the bridge itself is currently unclear, while various county agencies are attempting to determine the responsibility for the crossing.

The erosion began the night of the July flooding which struck many parts of Marshall County, at which point Marshall County Emergency Management Director Tom Hart said the county applied for a temporary bridge to be erected, but was denied by the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security.

A survey was set to be conducted on the stream.

Glen Dale resident John Guzek voiced his concern that waiting for too long might compromise the safety of the stream at large.

“What are they going to do if we wait to do anything?” Guzek said. “If this thing falls, you’re going to have (a huge) dam. … Someone’s going to have to figure that one out.”

Resident Sherry Collett pointed out the erosion at the site has steadily gotten worse, with the submarine bridge currently in use deteriorating by the day, which she fears will eventually strand people on either side of the bridge.

Commissioner John Gruzinskas asked Hart if he would be willing to assist the residents with determining who would be a point of contact for any upcoming issues.

“The biggest concern now is if the bridge does fall in,” Hart said. “Would it be state or county property? What ability do we have to go in and take any action?”

Gruzinskas suggest speaking with any agencies who have any influence, from the Army Corps of Engineers, to the prosecuting attorney’s office, as to where the county would stand if immediate action would need to be taken in an emergency situation.

County Administrator Betsy Frohnapfel said the county would explore legal options for how to deal with potentially relocating the bridge, if that would fall on the county’s authority. Gruzinskas said Hart would complete a report on the issue and the county would notify residents when it was complete.