Margrave Bridge situation gets another look by Harriman officials

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By Cindy Simpson

Motorists on Margrave Drive have had to detour around the area where Margrave Bridge crossed the once alternate route around part of downtown. 
“Is it going to stay the way it is?” asked Councilman Lonnie Wright recently.
This is the year that some sort of action needs to happen, according to Mayor Chris Mason.
“The last time I talked to anybody was about a year ago, and everybody seemed to be willing to go forward with opening the grant back up,” Mason said.
“If somebody wants to take it and run. (State) Sen. (Ken) Yager is fully aware of it. I’ve taken he and (State) Rep. Kent Calfee by and looked at it and told them the whole story of it.”
Several years ago the city, state and Norfolk Southern Railroad had a grant agreement that fell through when it was discovered that the relocation of utility lines was not included in the cost of replacing the bridge.
“The state was going to pay 80 percent of the project cost, which at the time was $2 million. Some of that included demolition,” Mason said. “The 20 percent was going to be split by the railroad and the city which came to the city portion was going to be $140,000 and the railroad’s portion was going to be $140,000.”
When the utility issue came to light, however, the city was told they were responsible for that portion.
The process came to a screeching halt.
Mason said it was estimated $400,000 would be needed to move the utilities on the railroad-owned bridge.
He recalled his conversation with railroad officials and the state.
“We are going to assume maintenance of it after it’s rebuilt, but it’s your (the railroad) bridge, and it should be included if anything in the cost and we split it 80, 10, 10.”
After the railroad and state both rejected his offer,  “I said we’re not going to do it. It was going to put the citizens of Harriman spending almost $700,000 for something that wasn’t even ours,” Mason said.
Norfolk Southern recommended closing the bridge after a study in 2010, and the city closed it in 2011.
The railroad later razed it.
Councilman J.D. Sampson asked how the railroad cars going over the track now do not rupture the aging water line.
Harriman Utility Board  manager Bill Young said that is a concern now, and said the utility could not recommend going forward with bridge construction without moving the water line.