Montgomery bridge construction leaves drivers frustrated; police forced to increase patrols

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 9:54 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Construction work is underway for a major bridge that goes into the city of Montgomery, leaving drivers frustrated with delays and police officers having to patrol the work area.

“The city really doesn’t have anything involved in the bridge repair other than trying to police the traffic and trying to help with all the traffic flow on the bridge,” said Montgomery Mayor Greg Ingram. “The real issue is when people run that red light. These lights are timed so that the traffic on the other side of the bridge starts moving. And, if you ran the red light, you’re probably going to meet somebody in the middle of the bridge.”

Ingram said the bridge is getting refurbished, and crews are putting in new steel, railings, lights and repainting the bottom part of the span.

“(It’s) just going to be a complete rebuild at the base of the bridge,” Ingram said. “It’s been quite a while since it’s been done, (and) this has been a project in the planning for about two or three years.”

“They could’ve done this bridge work during the virus when there wasn’t (any) traffic now it backs up past the old tech school,” said Donald, who drives the bridge at least every other day. “That red light changes too fast, you never know when you’re going to get through there.”

The bridge is one of two ways to get into Montgomery and connects to the city by Route 60. Right now, there are three stop lights coming from each direction to approach the bridge to help guide traffic through the construction zone. The mayor said the stop lights have also caused some headaches for drivers, but they’re timed to allow roughly eight cars through each cycle.

“We’ve really done our best to try to make the public aware that we’ve got some issues here,” he told WSAZ, “We know it’s inconvenient, we know that people say (the lights) don’t stay green long enough, but the longer we stay green here, the longer they stay red somewhere else.”

Ingram said in the course of a few hours, Montgomery Police officers issued more than 30 citations for people running the red lights. The mayor said they’ve had to back tractor-trailers off the bridge at times due to people running the lights and meeting head-on in the middle.

“Up here the two communities are so tied together that people have to cross this bridge to get to the hospital in Montgomery, restaurants in Smithers, so it’s a high-traffic area and we’re just going to manage it the best we can, and we ask for everyone to be considerate and consider what happens when you run a stop light.”

The mayor is hopeful that when the time comes for workers to move toward the base of the bridge, which they are rebuilding, traffic will ease up.

Officials said the work will take anywhere from two to two-and-a-half years to be fully completed.

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