NEW MANCHESTER - Quail Drive residents can breathe easier now that the bridge on their street is passable again.
Workers with Juszczak Construction Co. repaired the bridge on Thursday, installing a 5-foot plastic drainage pipe and reinforcing the bank around the bridge.
Heavy rains flooded the creek under the bridge on Sept. 1 and caused a 4-foot pipe to become separated from the bridge. The resulting damage prevented residents of Quail Drive from driving over the bridge for much of the week.
A Juszczak Construction Co. backhoe sits idle Friday next to a Quail Drive bridge that nearly collapsed last weekend. Workers installed a new drainage pipe and reinforced the bank around the bridge, making it passable once again. -- Stephen Huba
"If one of our houses had caught fire, we'd have been done," said resident Steve Obarski.
The damage to the bridge caused an emergency situation that required quick action, even if the question of who would pay for the repairs remained unsettled, Hancock County Commissioner Jeff Davis said.
"Instead of waiting for the funding, we went forward with this emergency service and, hopefully, will be able to recoup the money," Davis said.
The repairs will not cost the residents anything, Davis said. The county will pick up the bill and then seek reimbursement from the state of West Virginia, he said.
"We're sure we're going to get some sort of reimbursement," Davis said.
John Paul Jones, director of the Hancock County Office of Emergency Management, has applied for a grant through the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Davis said.
Obarski and other residents said they were pleased with the speed of the repairs.
"I can't tell you how delighted I am that this was done," said Terri Tuma, who has complained to West Virginia Division of Highways officials in the past about the drainage problems in the area.
In addition to the bridge repairs, a drainage ditch that empties into a pipe on Arner Road has been cleared. Tuma said she believes the clogged pipe was a main source of the flooding problems.
Davis said the bridge repairs cost $4,500.
Earlier in the week, Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, referred to the situation as a "dire-strait emergency. There's no way you could get an emergency vehicle through there if something happened."
Swartzmiller, whose help was enlisted in finding funding for the bridge repairs, said a disaster declaration was not necessary because the scope of the damage was isolated to just one area of the county.
Swartzmiller said it's too early to tell whether state money will pay for all or part of the repairs.
(Huba can be contacted at email@example.com)