CARPENDALE – There's no question that the Carpendale Bridge is a needed project, but funding for a study to determine the exact location and costs continues to be a stumbling block.
By Ronda Wertman
CARPENDALE – There’s no question that the Carpendale Bridge is a needed project, but funding for a study to determine the exact location and costs continues to be a stumbling block.
Delegates Gary Howell and Ruth Rowan, along with Senators Craig Blair and Charles Trump, met with constituents recently in preparation to reporting to Charleston for the 2019 legislative session.
As Carpendale mayor Casey Lambert explained the bridge, which would link Carpendale with Bowling Green, to area legislators, they were all familiar with the project, but questioned why there has been no progress despite several years of talking.
Trump said that it’s time the project is “proving its worth on paper. Maybe that engineering study proves what you know.”
Carpendale and the Mineral County Development Authority have a little over a week to get everything in writing as Blair made a call during the meeting, setting up a meeting with Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch during Mineral County Days Jan. 9-10.
“This is a big project for you guys,” said Blair. “A domino has got to fall before any of the rest of them are going to fall.”
“There ought to be a memorandum of understand with Maryland that if you get funding, that starts the chain reaction of things taking place,” he said.
Howell explained that without the study, officials do not know if they need to get the memorandum of understand from the Maryland State Highway Administration or Allegany County Roads.
“Get memos of understanding from both,” said Blair.
“Part of the benefit to Maryland is that Maryland has an industrial park,” said Howell of the proposed area in Bowling Green.
“Why hasn’t the first domino fell so all the rest can start?” asked Blair, trying to understand the situation.
Howell explained that despite efforts by Carpendale officials and the Mineral County Economic Development Authority, there are no funds for the $40,000 study.
“The last few years have been tight, tight, tight, tight,” said Blair. “I don’t question the need.”
Howell noted that at one time the House of Delegates and Senate approved the funds for the study, but that then Gov. Earl Tomblin didn’t sign off on it.
Blair was adamant that the Development Authority prepare to report on how to get the money for the engineering study for Mineral County Day, including what the Mineral County Commissioners and Development Authority can put toward the study. “It would be matching money and go from there,” he said.
“This has so much potential,” said Howell. Once constructed, the bridge would provide increased safety for motorists as big truck traffic is removed from the residential areas. Also this would provide an additional exit from Carpendale, which is now limited by the one way in and out. Any issue on the main road would pose a problem for those needing to get in or out.
The biggest benefit is that it would open the area up for economic development with several businesses looking at settling there.
“It’s a mixture of commercial and industrial,” said Howell, noting interest from a contractor, warehouse, restaurant, hotel and retail stores interested in the proposed 300 acre parcel.
“Everybody that we’ve talked to about it, we’ve had a good response,” said Lambert. “We know if we get the bridge, it will be a go.”
In an effort to make the area ready for development, Carpendale recently changed the zoning in the area to commercial.
“They did that to make the property more marketable,” said Howell of the close proximity to the interstate for development.
In addition to the money for the study, the other potential sticking point for the project is accessing CSX property.
“I think we are going to need some help with the land,” said Lambert, noting that the property is currently not taxed as unused railroad property.
He said the Development Authority is looking at potential tax deductions, which would benefit CSX for their cooperation with the town.
“They’re getting into some of the nitty gritty and don’t know if CSX is going to be a partner in this,” Lambert added.
He shared the story of how when the town was putting its sewer system in and had to go through CSX or through the river, that it took a call from late mayor Doris Marks to late Senator Robert Byrd to get CSX to return her calls.
Lambert is hoping that if help is needed again that elected officials will assist.
Trump noted that once the study is done and officials have Maryland on board then the two states can put pressure on CSX if necessary.
“We’re ready to get this started. We appreciate anything that you can do to help us,” concluded Lambert.