Bridge Damage: Who Dunnit?

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Two months and $50,000 may be the cost to fix a damaged beam on an Interstate Bridge, and taxpayers may be the ones who pay.

A beam on the I-77 bridge over Staunton Avenue is seriously damaged.

Engineers from the West Virginia Department of Highways believe the bridge was struck by a large truck carrying an oversized load.

According to District Administrator Rusty Roten, "The exterior beam was damaged right in its mid-section between two splices (cut) it was hit so hard that the lights just shook loose and were hanging by their wires."

Motorists passing under this bridge may not even notice the damage to the beam, but engineers tell us it could cost taxpayers more than $50,000 to repair the damage.

"If the persons are not found, the taxpayers of WV will have to bear the cost," Roten says. "And that's unfortunate because that's a nice chunk of change that can be used on some other projects we would like to establish."

Parkersburg Police Chief Bob Newell says the crime is a misdemeanor, assuming the person responsible can be found.

"The official charge is leaving the scene of an accident," says Newell. "If someone strikes a fixture they have the duty to stop and notify the owner of the damages."

Although there is damage, Roten says the bridge is still safe.

"Our inspectors have reviewed the bridge and structurally the bridge is sound," Roten says. "But just as a precaution we're keeping traffic off the outside edge."

A portion of Staunton Avenue exit ramp will remain closed until repairs are complete.

Anyone with information on this accident, or who may have seen a red dump truck in that area on or around May 31, is urged to call the West Virginia Department of Highways.

The phone number is, 304-420-9595.

Police say that, if found guilty, the suspect could face a $100 fine, and up to 10 days in jail.