Replacing a bridge in Putnam County isn't as easy as it used to be.
A handful of years after trying to replace bridge No. 159 near Reelsville and winding up in the middle of a historic preservation project, the Putnam County Commissioners are finding themselves in the same situation.
Commissioners Kristina Warren, Gene Beck and Jim Baird continued discussions of bridge No. 146 during a meeting Monday night.
Warren explained that the bridge needs to be replaced, but the county does not have enough mo-ney to do it. Therefore, they must rely on federal grants to complete the estimated $1.6 million replacement.
The issue discussed Monday night is what to do with the current bridge. A condition of receiving federal help to build the new bridge requires the county do preserve the old bridge, as was the case with bridge No. 159 several years ago.
In the case of bridge No. 146, the State Historic Preservation Office is giving the county the option of dismantling and storing the current bridge for a period up to 15 years. Why, the commissioners learned Monday, is because someone -- be it a civic group, parks department, or local government body -- may want the old bridge to re-use for another purpose. There is apparently a database on the Internet where dozens of these bridges from around the state are made available for groups, or even private citizens, to buy.
The commissioners are in the midst of negotiating with the state preservation office in order to allow the bridge 146 project to move forward. They must decide what to do with the old bridge in order to receive the money for the new bridge.
Estimates to dismantle and store the bridge are more than $150,000, the commissioners learned.
Commissioner Baird suggested the county consider how much it would cost to simply lift the bridge from its current location and slide it over to an adjacent piece of county-owned land where it could sit. He suggested allowing the bridge, in its erected state, to stay there until the time required by the historic preservation people has expired.
The remaining two commissioners agreed to investigate Baird's suggestion. They hope it will cost far less than dismantling the bridge and moving it into storage.
The commissioners took the opportunity during Monday night's meeting to express their feelings about historic preservation of bridges. Warren said the county has more than 90 bridges in a condition that requires major repair, but there is simply not enough local money to get it done.
She said she thinks the county needs to put money into the bridges that need repaired rather than spend it on preserving an old bridge that is going to be replaced anyway.
The other commissioners appeared to be in agreement.