Crossings Mall bridge construction to start Thursday

Charleston Gazette-Mail file photo

Reconstruction of the washed-out culvert bridge at Crossings Mall, in Elkview, will begin Thursday, according to Kanawha County commissioners — more than 10 months after the massive June 2016 flood destroyed the bridge, stranded dozens of people at the mall and left hundreds without their jobs.

The construction comes two weeks after a federal bankruptcy judge approved a financing plan for the bridge. Crossings Mall owner Tara Retail Group, headed by developer Bill Abruzzino, filed for bankruptcy in January, halting a scheduled trustee’s sale of the mall. The bridge contractor estimates that the project will take about 60 days to complete.

Steven Thomas, an attorney representing Tara Retail, told the Gazette-Mail in an email that equipment for the project arrived at the construction site Tuesday.

Dozens of businesses in the mall were forced to close after the bridge was destroyed. Kmart originally transferred dozens of workers to other locations in the area, but eventually laid off those workers in February.

“Despite the diligent efforts of Kmart and the other tenants in the mall, there remains no progress on rebuilding the bridge so that the mall and stores can reopen,” Howard Riefs, director of corporate communications at Sears Holdings Corp., which owns Kmart, said at the time.

More than 500 people who worked at the mall remain unemployed, according to a news release from the County Commission.

The lack of a bridge also has left Kanawha County Public Library patrons unable to access the library’s Elk Valley branch. Library officials opened a temporary branch in Big Chimney after the floods, which also seriously damaged the library’s Clendenin branch.

“This is a long-overdue step to reopening the Crossings Mall to the public. We are all very happy to see the construction work begin,” Kanawha Commission President Kent Carper said in a news release. “This is a ray of light for so many families and individuals affected by the loss of the bridge to the property.”

Reach Ali Schmitz at ali.schmitz@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4843 or follow @SchmitzMedia on Twitter.

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