County must decide fate of deficient 95-year-old bridge

Bartholomew County officials need to decide whether they will repair or replace a 95-year-old bridge near Anderson Falls Park.

The 103-foot-long Pratt truss bridge is located on County Road 300N, just north of Road 1000E.

An inspection conducted 13 months ago determined the structure, officially called Bridge 39, was structurally deficient, with its superstructure condition described as poor, said Bartholomew County Highway Engineer Danny Hollander.

While the crossing currently has a three-ton weight limit, Hollander said a replacement bridge would be capable of carrying much heavier vehicles, including semis.

The latest traffic count indicates the 18-foot-wide bridge over the Fall Fork of Clifty Creek, southwest of Hartsville, carries about 130 vehicles daily.

Since the crossing is not among the five designated as select historic bridges that can’t be legally torn down by city or county governments, local funds have been set aside for the potential replacement.

Three bids for replacing the bridge were received last Monday by the Bartholomew County Commissioners, with the lowest being $741,490 submitted by Dave O’Mara Construction of North Vernon.

However, Hollander said that since all the bids exceeded the official estimate, the commissioners might choose to rehabilitate the structure instead of replacing it when they meet at 10 a.m. today.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.