BY MELANIE BUCK –
A settlement agreement was reached last week between AIG Insurance and Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison concerning the damage caused to the Two Mile Creek Bridge located on Polk County Road 37, near Hatfield. The bridge was damaged on January 8th by a local timber contractor, who attempted to cross the bridge with a skidder that was too tall for the structure. The top of the skidder snagged the top of the bridge, causing the collapse and destruction of the century old bridge.
“The contractor cooperated fully and responsibly and maintained adequate insurance to cover the damage,” said Judge Ellison. The settlement promises payment of $215,000, from AIG to Polk County, by June 7th.
Demolition of the old bridge is to begin this week, weather permitting. Construction of a new concrete bridge will begin immediately after the old bridge has been cleared out. Ellison said the existing abutments will be modified and retained (as they are undamaged and in good condition) for use on the new bridge. “Having abutments in place will speed up the project considerably, hopefully opening it up to traffic by the first week of August.”
Judge Ellison said, “Although I am satisfied with the agreed upon compensation, I am not happy with the slow process of negotiating with AIG. During the negotiation we completed the engineering work, permit application, and competitive bid process so that we could go to work immediately after a settlement was reached. The old bridge was 100 years old and we can use this incident as an opportunity to better our road and bridge system, by building a more modern and stronger bridge. The agreed settlement will cover the cost of demolition and construction of the new proposed structure. The county has been made whole by this settlement and I look forward to the completion of this project, so that the traveling public can again use the portion of Polk 37 they have been deprived of.”