EDITORIAL: Common ground on complicated matters

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2023

When it was announced that the Robert C. Byrd Bridge, connecting the Village of Chesapeake and downtown Huntington was going to be completely closed for several months, it came as a shock to many in Lawrence County.

As Mayor Drew Griffin said, the bridge is a “main artery” for the village and brings a majority of customers to businesses in the village and the resulting detours would have led to major traffic tie-ups.

The news was unexpected to the village, as the project fell under the jurisdiction of the state of West Virginia, who maintain the bridge and hired the contractor, KMX Painting.

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In fact, Griffin said there had been no effort to notify Chesapeake and officials there only learned of the planned closure, which would have had a dramatic impact, through a local TV broadcast.

So, with a catastrophic impact expected by leaders, the village made the move to voice their concerns to the contractor, inviting KMX Painting to Monday’s meeting of council.

There, Griffin forcefully and respectfully made their case, with the room full of business owners, residents and county higher ups.

And, upon hearing of just how drastic of an effect it would have on Chesapeake, which many said had not been considered in West Virginia’s assessment, the contractor changed their plans and agreed to keep the bridge open.

The meeting concluded with a respectful pledge of cooperation between Chesapeake and KMX, with Griffin suggesting ways to ease the traffic to ensure worker safety while the project continues.

There was no easy answer here, with the contractor and workers wanting to guarantee a safe working environment, and the village knowing that a full closure would cut them off from the rest of the Tri-State.

But, through civil discussion, what appears to be a healthy balance was achieved.

We are thankful KMX was willing to consider the issues impacting this side of the river and change their plans. And we commend Griffin and those at the meeting for their leadership on this matter, which not only would have impacted the village, but the county as a whole.