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Bridge out

Bridge out
Bridge out
Barricades went up yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) shutting down the bridge across Blue River in Milltown after beam failure was found during an inspection the day before. Photo by Wade Bell (click for larger version)

The old Main Street bridge in Milltown has finally seen an end to its usefulness. The last vehicle crossed the bridge yesterday (Tuesday), when it was closed for good by bridge inspectors.
‘One of the main support beams has rusted through and is sagging under the bridge,’ Milltown Volunteer Fire Department Chief Scott Dubois, who is also a town employee, said. ‘It has nothing to do with the ongoing construction of the new bridge. This was an unforeseen closure. The bridge inspectors came late (Monday) afternoon and discovered the damage, and the (Crawford County) commissioners decided to go ahead and close the bridge (Tuesday).
‘This time, it’ll be shut down for good. The bridge inspectors said the decking would have to be removed to make repairs, and it’s really not worth it. It’s a blessing that they are already working on a new bridge,’ Dubois added.
Closing the bridge will increase emergency response time only four or five minutes, Dubois said.
‘And we’ll just have to live with that for a little while,’ he said.
Crawford County District 1 Commissioner Larry Bye said the bridge was inspected just last year.
‘We had it inspected after the flood last year,’ he said. ‘There was no obvious problem then, and the bridge is not in any immediate danger of falling, but one of the beams has dropped down about an inch and a half, and closing the bridge was the safest choice.’
A report by the bridge inspectors indicated the beam involved, a main floor support, is on the east side of the middle span of the bridge. The report said the beam had begun to fail, and inspectors recommended the bridge be closed to traffic immediately.
‘The work on the new bridge has slowed some,’ Bye said.
‘They are waiting for some utility lines to be moved. And they are predicting that the new bridge will be ready by Dec. 20, but I really don’t believe it will be finished that soon.’
The center pier of the old bridge was built in 1862, and, at one time, the structure was a covered bridge. The steel frame was added in 1913.
‘It’s a good old bridge for as long as it’s been there,’ Jim Pevlor, Milltown town manager, said, ‘but the steel is almost 100 years old. It’s time to replace it.’