TERRA ALTA,W.Va. – Crossing railroad tracks is proving to be difficult for some Preston County residents.
The CSX bridge near Salt Lick Road has been closed for more than four years. Now, residents want it back open.
“The worst thing is I just can’t see why it doesn’t happen, people are just ignorant,” Gene Thompson, Preston County resident, said. “Half of the town can’t get access certain times of day. I think it’s important. Everything hurts the community that’s not done right.”
Back in 2017 the bridge was deemed unsafe and blocked off. There were plans to rebuild it, but nothing was ever finalized.
Some residents like Thompson have reached out to CSX to get answers. He says they won’t answer him.
“CSX is just non-responsive when we try to get something open, it’s not only an inconvenience but it’s dangerous,” Thompson said. “Money is there, my understanding is. The only thing holding it up is CSX refusing to talk to anybody and giving permission. We’re not asking them for money. I think they just don’t care about us.”
Leaders in the county want to see the same result.
“Quite appropriately this should be something that should be on the front, not be placed on the back burner like it has been for the last years,” Don Smith, Preston County Commissioner, said.
The train tracks run through Terra Alta and essentially cut it in half. With the bridge closed, there are only two ways to cross them. There’s half a mile between the bridge and the first railroad crossing. From that spot to the next railroad crossing is another mile. Residents are tired of driving so far to get over the tracks.
The biggest problem is that the tracks are completely level with the road. That means when a train comes, cars have to stop and wait. Until the train is completely passed there’s no way to get to the other side of town. Residents and leaders feel that could be a problem in the event of an emergency.
“God forbid something would happen some life-or-death situation happens when that trains coming through and now, they can’t get over there and help them,” Smith said.
“Well, if anybody need to get across to go to the hospital or the doctor, they’d just be up a creek until they waited the five minutes,” Thompson said. “And that sort of worries me because that’s a long time if you’re needing a hospital.”
The DOH said in a statement “regarding the CSX project, the Design Study was completed and presented to the Program Review Committee as planned. The bridge is currently closed, and it’s owned by CSX, who allowed the public to use it. It’s currently under review to see if funding will be granted.”
12 News reached out to CSX for a comment. They have not yet responded.