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Officials seek funds to rehab 3 historic bridges

Three Harrison County bridges may be restored under the Indiana Transportation Enhancement (TE) Program, if the county’s funding applications are approved by transportation officials.
The county is applying for enhancement funds to improve Bridge 58 on Valley View Road and Bridge 55 on Lickford Bridge Road. Funds to improve the old Rothrock Mill Bridge so it can be relocated, rehabilitated and used in the Indian Creek Trail Project as a foot bridge are also being sought by the county. This is the second time the county has sought funds for Rothrock Mill Bridge from the TE program.
Harrison County Engineer Kevin Russel said it is very unlikely that all three projects will be approved by the TE program, but he believes Bridge 55 should be the county’s highest priority of the three projects.
‘The longer we go, the more expensive repairs are going to be,’ Russel told the Harrison County Board of Commissioners during the regular meeting Monday.
Bridge 55 and Bridge 58 are also two of three remaining metal truss bridges in Harrison County, and both are eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bridge 58 has not been renovated since 1993; it was built in 1900. Bridge 55 was built in 1905 and was last renovated in 1989. The county replaced the wooded decks on both bridges with steel.
Both bridges will experience similar renovations if the county is able to find funding for the enhancements. Bringing the bridges up to a 12-ton capacity, repairing damaged and severly rusted portions of the bridges, and repainting all metal areas to prevent future rusting are planned for both of the bridges.
Harrison County Commissioner J.R. Eckart said Bridge 55 and Bridge 58 should be the county’s highest priorities of the three projects, since they are active transportation bridges.
‘Both of them have to carry fire trucks, ambulances and other public service vehicles,’ Eckart said Monday.
Last year, the program awarded almost $20 million to 26 projects in 20 counties. The program provides matching funds for non-traditional transportation projects like historical preservation, landscaping or building facilities for pedestrians or bicyclists.
The enhancement program provides up to 80 percents of a project’s eligible costs. At minimum, a 20-percent match must be secured before applying for the funds.
Russel told the commissioners that if the county were to provide a 30-percent match, the projects would score better and have a better likelihood of getting funded.
The commissioners discussed the cost at great length.
The total cost for Bridge 58 would be $738,500; for Bridge 55, 716,000. At 20 percent, the county’s match would be close to $300,000. A 30-percent match would raise the county’s portion to more than $400,000.
Eckart said even if the county supported the projects at $300,000, the county would still have slightly more than $100,000 left in the county’s bridge fund for annual maintenance on the county’s bridges.
Commissioner Terry Miller motioned to raise the match to 30 percent which Eckart seconded.
The county’s match for the Rothrock Mill Bridge would be $37,500, which is not 30 percent of the total project funds since that project also has monetary support from Lucas Oil Products in Corydon and the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The increase in the county’s match for the three projects must still be approved by the Harrison County Council.