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Railroad asked to help repair bridge in Martinsburg

September 12, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
  • City leaders have asked CSX Transportation to help make repairs to the North Queen Street underpass bridge in Martinsburg, W.Va.
By Matthew Umstead,

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Citing a 1921 agreement, city leaders in Martinsburg have asked CSX Transportation to help make repairs to deteriorating walls and abutments around the North Queen Street underpass bridge.

"We're just trying to get a cooperative effort with CSX to get the repairs done," City Manager Mark Baldwin said Friday.

Based on the apparent agreement between the city and B&O Railroad Co., CSX's predecessor, Baldwin said "the city doesn't think the whole structure is the city's responsibility" to maintain.

The agreement, which was recorded in the April 1921 minutes of a Martinsburg City Council meeting, concludes "the railroad company shall maintain its bridge and the abutments thereof and sidewalls of the undergrade crossing, and the city shall maintain the paving of the street and sidewalks."

Copies of photographs documenting the deteriorated conditions around the underpass bridge, the 1921 agreement and corresponding council minutes were sent with a July 26, 2010, letter signed by Mayor George Karos to CSX Transportation's Rick P. Garro Jr.

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Garro did not reply to an e-mail sent Wednesday asking for a response to Karos' letter, but CSX spokesman Robert "Bob" Sullivan said Friday that the railroad would review it and respond appropriately.

"CSX directs its bridge funds to making sure (they) are safe and well-maintained, as opposed to aesthetics," Sullivan said.

In response to a letter that Karos sent to CSX in 2006, Garro, the assistant chief engineer for the railroad's structures, said the bridge was built cooperatively with the city. He also noted in the letter that the company did not have a copy of any agreement related to the construction.

"Generally, the local road authority is responsible for the roadway, sidewalks, hand railings and lighting," Garro wrote in a Sept. 19, 2006, letter to Karos. "We believe that the city is already empowered to make the improvements to the roadway facilities suggested."

Sullivan said Friday that the underpass bridge, which has a 13-foot clearance, was deemed structurally sound after an inspection in April.

While the city doesn't dispute the bridge safety, Baldwin said the deterioration of walls and abutments, and worn condition of the railing along the city's historic and highly traveled gateway will only get worse if they are not addressed soon.

"Our concern is the structure in total," Baldwin said.

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