ST. ALBANS, W.Va. -- The new Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge that opened Nov. 1 to reconnect St. Albans with Nitro is looking sparkly and strong.
And the 3rd Street railroad underpass directly across MacCorkle Avenue?
Not so much.
St. Albans Councilwoman Loretta Griffith brought up the contrast between the new bridge and the older, darker underpass at a city council meeting Nov. 18.
While there is a plan to rehabilitate the underpass, nothing is funded.
In 2012, the Regional Intergovernmental Council published a 10-page report that examined railroad crossings in St. Albans, including the underpass. That report called for the vertical height of the underpass to be increased to 14 feet, six inches, and widened to include room for three 11-foot lanes, 4-foot shoulders and a 5-foot sidewalk.
"It would enable larger vehicles to pass through it," said Scott Ferry, the regional council's transportation study manager. "It would also allow for a complete second lane. It would tie-in nice with the new Dick Henderson Bridge."
Currently, the underpass is low-clearance, at 10 feet, 6 inches and has two travel lanes, no shoulders and an elevated sidewalk.
The council's railroad crossing study fed into its regional long-range transportation plan released in September, dubbed "Metro Mobility 2040." In that plan, renovations to the 3rd Street underpass as presented are estimated at $9.6 million, though if major drainage problems are created, St. Albans Mayor Dick Callaway told City Council the cost could triple.
To match the council's recommendations, the underpass would be deepened and the retaining walls would be pushed out and rebuilt. The underpass is crossed by three different bridges, which respectively carry 3rd Avenue, three railroad lines and 4th Avenue.