A new bridge on W.Va. 61 in Kincaid in Fayette County is too narrow for large vehicles to cross, nearby residents say, and will now cost the state an estimated $200,000 to widen.
West Virginia Department of Transportation Director of Communications Brent Walker said the project initially cost the state $500,000.
The state will now spend about $200,000 to make the corrections, which will entail adding a total of six feet, or three feet on each side, to widen it, Walker confirmed.
The bridge is considered a small, low-traffic bridge in terms of volume.
Walker said the bridge was built the same size as the old one.
However, there was an installation of a guard rail and new “ADA guard rail specs” that weren’t taken into consideration when the project was initially done, he said.
“The bridge is as wide as it needs to be. The installation of the guard rail made that more narrow and those were the concerns,” Walker added.
James Kincaid, chairperson of the Public Service District, said, “The engineering on it wasn’t good as far as I think it should’ve been studied a little bit more.
“It’s been a hassle,” Kincaid said. “The whole community is upset about it and talking about it.”
Dr. John David, retired West Virginia University Tech professor and director of the Southern Appalachian Labor School in Oak Hill, said the bridge “was poorly if not inadequately designed.”
“They are incurring, in my book, significant expense in making the bridge usable,” he said. “In the sense of taxpayer funds being misused … it’s a crazy situation and should never have occurred in the first place. It wasn’t properly done.”
Area residents told The Register-Herald commercial vehicles and school buses have a difficult time crossing the new bridge and parents have to drive their kids across the bridge to get on a school bus.
A call to Fayette County Schools Department of Transportation Director Brian Parsons was not returned confirming this.
However, Walker said, “We confirmed that Fayette schools weren’t going to cross it.”
The West Virginia Department of Transportation said it has crews diligently working to widen the bridge.
DOT officials said the bridge was able to be moved and rebuilt through the Small Bridge Program.
A lot of small communities in West Virginia are unable to replace bridges, Walker said.
So while the additional bridge work may be an inconvenience, Walker said, the state is working to remedy the problem.
Walker is projecting the final edits of the bridge to be completed by the time students go back to school following the winter break.
The state says school buses should have no issues crossing the new bridge once completed.