Historic truss bridge won't be saved
The state offered the Leedle Mill Road bridge, built in 1926, for free to anyone willing to pay to move and restore it. The offer attracted nine interested parties, but only one submitted a proposal, said Bob Newbery, a DOT historian.
John Lamm of Lammscapes! in Jackson in Washington County proposed moving the bridge to his farm's 155 acres of family-oriented park, which features hayrides, pumpkins, landscaping and gardens. There, it would have connected trails for hayrides and would have been seen from the road at the entrance to the farm.
The cost to move and rehabilitate the bridge was estimated at $125,000, Newbery said. The state would pay about $25,000—the cost to demolish the bridge—and Lamm proposed paying $25,000, Newbery said. That left a shortfall of about $75,000.
"There do not appear to be any funds readily available that we could apply for," he said.
Lamm said he was disappointed, and it all comes down to money. He wondered how long the bridge would remain because he wants to look for other grants.
The bridge could be demolished within two to three months so it's gone before birds make nests underneath it, Town Chairman Kendall Schneider said.
Part of the challenge of moving the bridge is its size and condition. The bridge, which spans Badfish Creek northeast of Evansville and just northwest of Cooksville, is about 91 feet long and 18 feet wide. It was closed to traffic in the early 1990s after an inspection found severe deterioration of several truss members.
For years, officials went back and forth over rehabbing or replacing the bridge. Eventually, they decided to replace it.
After demolition, a new bridge will be built next year on the existing alignment.
Emergency response time increases significantly with the detour, and a new bridge will allow farm equipment and snowplows to cross as well as bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
"It just makes more sense to have the road open again and not cause any more delays," Schneider has said.
Federal and state funds will pay for 80 percent of the project, estimated at $546,000, while the town and county will equally split the rest.