The Main Street/Brooklyn bridge of New Martinsville will be closed today, weather permitting. Wetzel County Commissioners made the decision on Feb. 27 to close the bridge, per the recommendation of the West Virginia Department of Highways.
A previous, March 2012, inspection of the bridge found the bridge to be deemed as being in "poor" condition. The Wetzel County Commission then entered into a contract with the Division of Highways at the time to rehabilitate piers at the bridge. This contract was issued and signed on May 31, 2012. At this time, commissioners also instituted a 15 Ton weight limit on the bridge, as a safety precaution.
A second inspection was conducted in June 2012. The results of this inspection were just mailed to commissioners in late February. Upon receiving the recommendation to close the bridge, commissioners took action. Commissioner Gorby reported at the Feb. 27 commission meeting that the commission had talked to Paul A Mattox Jr., West Virginia's Commissioner of Highways/Secretary of Transportation, to try to expedite the bridge repair. Commission President Don Mason added that the commissioners have met with New Martinsville officials and explained to them the rehabilitation of the piers and why the bridge must be closed for public safety. "They are aware of it, and they are going to inform residents who live in that affected area of what is going to be happening."
The Main Street/Brooklyn Bridge in New Martinsville will close today, weather permitting. Commissioners estimated at their Feb. 27 meeting that the bridge will reopen sometime in the fall 2013. (Photo by Lauren?Riggs)
Earl Smith, resident of the Brooklyn section of New Martinsville, praised Wetzel County Commissioners at Tuesday morning's commission meeting for their handling of the current Main Street/Brooklyn bridge closure.
"I wanted to thank the commissioners," he began. "Since last Thursday it's been real hectic with the closing of the bridge. The commissioners have been real gracious. They have met with me three times since Thursday. They've answered all of my questions," Smith stated. "I don't think the citizens realize what kind of leadership we've got. I hope the people of Wetzel County understand, we have some very good county commissioners."
"The county is very fortunate to have leaders like you. You have been very helpful in getting things done and making it so we understand what is going on. This thing popped up all of a sudden, but we got things worked out. Things are going to run smoothly," he added.
"We are appreciative of what you have done," Commission President Don Mason responded. He added that the county is going to install gates on the entrances to each side of the bridge instead of other barriers, so that emergency responders can get across the bridge if necessary. Emergency responders will have keys to the gates. "That came from your suggestion," he told Smith. "That shows the cooperation between the citizens and elected officials."
Also in regards to emergency situations, Smith said CSX has said they will be cooperative to try to make access to the western section of Brooklyn as easy as possible. Without the bridge, if a train is across the railroad tracks, that section would be completely isolated.
New Martinsville Mayor Keith Nelsen noted at Monday's city council meeting when discussing the bridge closure, "The bridge will actually be open to pedestrian traffic."