.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Time running out for Margrave bridge

-A A +A
By The Staff

By CHERYL DUNCAN

cduncan@roanecounty.com

It looks like a bridge on Harriman’s Margrave Drive is destined for closure.

“I don’t want to have the liability of closing it, and I don’t want to have the liability not to close it,” Mayor Chris Mason said. “But I will for safety.”

A recent inspection by Norfolk Southern Railway recommends the bridge be closed to traffic.

The railroad company owns the bridge which runs underneath and supports the mostly residential city street.

“It’s their bridge,” Mason said. “I’d rather they close it.”

The rickety structure has been a hot button for Harriman since the 1990s.

City officials would like to see the bridge renovated or replaced, but either would prove to be costly, they said.

The state at one time had offered to pay 80 percent of the estimated $2 million cost to replace the structure.

City officials agreed to ante up the remaining money. Norfolk Southern, after being approached by Harriman officials, agreed to pay half of the city’s cost.

Replacement plans were halted, however, when it was learned that the city would be responsible for paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to move utility lines in the bridge’s vicinity.

“I agree that it’s not safe,” Vice Mayor Chase Tedder said. “But I don’t think we have to spend half a million dollars to move utilities.”

The state’s offer to assume some of the cost is now off the table. Mason said he plans to enlist the help of state Sen. Ken Yager to get state officials on board with some aspect of the project.

Though Norfolk Southern made some repairs after a car crash on the bridge, the mayor said he doesn’t foresee any additional aid from the company.

“They’re just going to close it and tear it down,” he said. “They’re not going to replace it.”

If he is forced to close the bridge, Mason said he’d like to erect a sign at the site indicating that the closure is due to Norfolk Southern.

“Put a phone number on there, too,” Tedder offered.