TERRA ALTA, W.Va. – Officials from CSX, the West Virginia Department of Transportation and Preston County came together to discuss a problem they’ve had for years.
Terra Alta has a CSX bridge that’s been shut down since 2017. Residents want it back open because it is the only way to get over the train tracks when a train is crossing without waiting.
In the meeting on Tuesday, CSX officials said they will repair the bridge if it is funded in an 80-20 split with the DOT. An official from the DOT said they can’t and won’t fund 80% of the repairs to the bridge. They’ve agreed to continue negotiations on how to split the costs.
CSX, the DOT and Preston County officials also did not come to a decision on who would own and maintain the bridge after it is reopened. However, they did all agree on providing each other with monthly updates on any progress between negotiations.
Residents said they’re tired of repairs being held up by CSX and want the bridge reopened mainly so emergency vehicles can get to the other side of town if a train is crossing.
“This is the one thing this community needs,” said Holly Funk, a Terra Alta resident. “We are cut off, but at some point, we’re going to have a major emergency, and that sides going to be cut off by a train.”
Funk lives in a house next to the CSX bridge. She was told that CSX would have to buy some of her land in order to build a new two-lane bridge. She’s okay with selling them her land but said they haven’t asked her officially for it yet.
Funk has experienced first-hand how important opening the bridge is to get emergency vehicles to the other side of town when a train is passing.
“I did CPR of my father for 26 minutes waiting for an ambulance to get there,” Funk said. “I could hear it and I could hear a train and the 911 operator trying to give me instructions because we had to wait for the train. So, if we had any chance whatsoever of saving him, we lost it there.”
During the meeting, CSX agreed to assess the bridge in the next few weeks to see if they can make minor repairs in the meantime to re-open it for small cars and light traffic.