It looks as if the old historic bridge on Logan Mill Road will be coming down. Magistrates voted Tuesday to allow the state to move forward in building a $1.36 million bridge to replace the medal scaffold bridge that was built in 1945 over the Red River in south Logan County. Federal funds will pay for the bridge.
Property owners on the 2-mile stretch of road that houses the bridge had come to fiscal court twice over the past few months asking the county to leave the old bridge alone. Teresa Baldwin Brooks mentioned that the county could close the bridge and make it for pedestrians only, as there was little traffic on the bridge.
The bridge came to the attention of the state after inspection, which is done every two years.
Attending Tuesday’s fiscal court meeting to answer questions about the old bridge were Greg Meredith, Third District chief engineer of the Transportation Cabinet; Darren Stewart, maintenance supervisor of the Third District; and Renee Slaughter with the state Department for Environmental Protection.
Stewart spoke on the condition of the bridge Tuesday. He said the bridge was old, and rated its various aspects on a scale of 0-9. The deck of the bridge is rated at 4, with the superstructure and substructure both at a 5.
To restore the bridge and bring it up to standards, the county would have to spend more than $200,000, but that wouldn’t have to be done for another decade or more.
Magistrate Jack Crossley represents those who live near the bridge. He made a motion Tuesday to turn down the state’s offer to build a new bridge, saying he talked with property owners in the area of the bridge and none of them wanted a new one.
“A new bridge would disrupt the lives of the people who live down there,” Crossley said, adding that the county could choose to close the road, which is less than 2 miles long, and make the bridge for pedestrian traffic only. His motion died for lack of a second.
Magistrate Jo Orange was against taking down the old bridge and spending money to put a new one up if was neither needed nor wanted.
Magistrate Russell Poore made a motion to allow the state to move forward with building the new bridge, saying the money might as well be spent in Logan County as anywhere else.
“The people that live there now won’t be there 100 years from now,” said Poore, whose motion passed 4-3. “Whatever we do here, we are going to affect the future.”
Magistrates Barry Joe Wright and Drexel Johnson and Judge Executive Logan Chick voted with Poore, and Magistrates Crossley, Orange and Thomas Bouldin voted no.
Bouldin said he wanted the bridge to stay exactly where it was and how it was. He wanted the state and property owners to get together and come up with a plan everyone would be happy with.
Liability was also a concern the court looked at. If the bridge stayed and something happened due to its age, it would fall back on the county.
The law requires the state to ask if anyone would like to accept the bridge and relocate it due to its historic nature. The state will pay to have it torn down and hauled to the new site, but the entity accepting the bridge will have to foot the bill to reconstruct it, as well as follow necessary standards once it’s put back up.
Brooks, who has lived on the river and whose family owns a lot of property in that area, said this isn’t over for her, adding that the bridge is more than just a bridge to her and her family, and she intends to do something to keep it.
“The decision by Fiscal Court to vote to replace the bridge really disappoints me,” Brooks said. “This is a perfect example of the big government mentality. There is money, so let’s spend it. I had hoped that Logan Fiscal Court would step up and lead by example. It was stated by a magistrate that if we don’t accept this money then another county in the state will get it, and we will get nothing. In my opinion, the court should have further examined other alternatives before agreeing to spend $1.36 million for a bridge that no one wants.”
Brooks had a problem with the citizens of the Dot community not being notified of the intent to vote at Tuesday’s meeting. She said the parties affected should have had a right to be heard.
“To me this is yet another example of governments forcing their will upon the citizens,” she said. “If they don’t notify people of what’s happening, then there won’t be any opposition until it’s too late to do anything about it.”
The farms that join the bridge are accessible on both ends of the road and would not benefit from a new bridge, Brooks said, adding that the farms are leased by different people and those leases are subject to change any given year. So while it might be a benefit this year to be able to cross a wider bridge, Brooks said it might not be the same next year.
“Everyone who voted to spend this money are elected officials — officials that we the people of Logan County elected,” she said. “These are officials that were elected to serve the people who elected them. Apparently they have forgotten why they were elected and by whom. During the next election, I hope the people of Logan County will remember $1.36 million spent on a bridge to nowhere that no one wanted. You can rest assured the people of Logan Mill Road and the Dot Community will.”