BY MELANIE BUCK AND LEANN DILBECK –
A 95-plus year old bridge was destroyed on Friday morning when the driver of a semi-truck pulling a low-boy trailer hauling a skidder attempted to cross it, despite weight limit and height limit signs. The old iron bridge on Polk Road 37 was built in 1920 over Two Mile Creek and has been the subject of many photos, paintings, and memories.
Two Mile Creek Bridge, as it is known, had a weight limit of only 4 tons and a height limit of 12 feet, according to posted signs. It is suspected that the equipment that caused the collapse weighed in excess of 35 tons. However, it wasn’t the weight that ultimately caused the collapse, it happened when the skidder caught the top of the iron bridge, pulling it down.
County Judge Brandon Ellison said, “The bridge is ruined and, at best, will be closed for six months.” Ellison met with a bridge engineer Friday afternoon who surveyed the site and said they discussed replacement plans. “Depending on design and whether we can use the existing abutments, for a 103-foot span, the replacement cost could be between $120,000 to $200,000.”
Officials have not released the identity of the driver of the semi but did say that they did not sustain any injuries. The semi and trailer were able to make the crossing; however, the skidder had to be pulled from the collapsed bridge.
Judge Ellison did say that he would try to negotiate some compensation. He added, “To be fair, I can’t expect full replacement cost, only the cost of damages. Clearly the old bridge wasn’t worth what a modern concrete bridge will be.”