A Franklin County resident says he and others are upset that the Bend Road bridge in eastern Franklin County was closed Friday.
The county commission’s decision Tuesday to close the 97-year-old bridge is a major inconvenience for people who use it to get to home and work, said Joe Schindler.
County officials say it could cost $35,000 to repair the bridge, and Schindler said that would be money well spent.
Moreover, the county may be able to get the repair done for less if it got more bids, especially from local companies, he added.
Even if it did cost $35,000 to keep it open that is not a lot of money for Franklin County, Schindler said.
“They probably waste that in a day,” he asserted. “The county’s just dodging this thing.”
County officials said the bridge needed to be closed to protect residents’ safety and to guard the county against liability.
Second District Commissioner Mike Schatz said this week that he thinks spending money to repair the bridge would be throwing good money after bad.
County officials are now focused on getting the bridge replaced.
But Schindler said that could take years, and it is not right to “leave everybody hanging” in the meantime.
The bridge could at least be kept open to accommodate cars and pickup trucks, he said, noting that those types of vehicles are not the problem. Those vehicles could still be allowed while banning heavy trucks and equipment from using the bridge, Schindler said.
He said more people use the bridge than the county realizes, adding that people use it to avoid Highway O, which he says is dangerous.
The county is using the residents as pawns to get the state to provide funding for a new bridge, Schindler said.
A recent state inspection of the bridge found a crack in the structure, resulting in the load limit being lowered from 17 tons to 12 tons.
The county commissioners voted 2-1 this week to close the bridge.
Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer voted against the closure even though he said it was probably the right thing to do.
Schatz and Commissioner Tim Brinker voted in favor.
Meanwhile, county officials are working to secure funding to replace the bridge.