BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – Tuesday evening yielded the year’s first Beckley Common Council meeting, and with it came yet another mention of the road closure on New River Drive.
In August, a sinkhole appeared on New River Drive and the road was then closed so that a new culvert could be installed.
It has been five months, and city officials have said that there is no timeline for the street’s opening.
During a council meeting in December, Mayor Rob Rappold stated that the delays were caused by the pandemic, as well as a lack of materials needed to stabilize the box culverts.
All local asphalt companies are closed until the spring, meaning work on the road cannot be completed for several more months.
The mayor, councilmembers and even local contractors working on the road have agreed that the project has taken much longer than it should have.
Running between Robert C. Byrd Drive and Pikeview, New River Drive houses many residences and businesses and is also used by many as a shortcut.
This closure, which was estimated to take two weeks and has taken nearly half a year, has started to attract negative comments from several Maxwell Hill residents, who have issued complaints to the Beckley Common Council.
Although the council has worked to keep sections of the road open that service the entrance to Busy Bee Day Care and the Beckley Moose Lodge, the road’s businesses are also starting to show frustration.
At-Large Councilman Cody Reedy spoke to the council on Tuesday, asking if there was anything they could do to aid the road’s businesses that are suffering financially from the closure on top of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Reedy, the Moose reached out to the council to see if they could get a break on stormwater fees and B&O taxes (Business and Operation taxes). Reedy stated that the business was told that they could be put on a payment plan but that that was the only solution they were given.
“At the end of the day, this is our baby, and it is our fault the road is shut down,” Reedy said. “We are making these businesses lose revenue, and shouldn’t we be a part to help them?”
In reply to Reedy’s statement, Mayor Rappold said it is not possible to give the businesses on New River Drive any type of financial break or assistance, saying that there are thousands of restaurants across the nation that require assistance at this time.
“We cannot offer reductions or any other special attention to one restaurant over the other or one business over another. I know it’s difficult, but that is just the way it is.”
Rappold did say that the city is working as fast as they can to get the roadwork completed.