Putnam County Bridge number 43 on C.R. 425 E had to be closed because it was too dangerous to leave open. It will cost the county approximately $61,000 to replace it.
County commissioners Gene Beck, Jim Baird and Kristina Warren approved the engineering study for the bridge to be completed by Dave Myers Engineering to the tune of $7,000. Another $53,966 will be spent in the actual repair of the bridge.
"It's been in bad shape for a few years. We had to close it before someone fell through it," said Beck. "The abutments are gone and I'm not sure what's even holding it up. The road, I guess."
Preservation of bridges in the county is costing a lot of money at a time when funds are not available to even repair roads. Some state and federal funds are available for repair and new structures, but in several cases the county still has to pay some portion of the cost.
Bridge 146, also known as the Houck iron bridge, is still open for comments. The state has given the county the choice of setting the bridge aside or taking it apart and storing it until Dec. 31, 2025 because of it's historic value as an iron bridge. The county's share of the cost to take down the bridge is $120,000.
Bridge number 248 in Jackson Township has a cement arch built in 1909. Rebuilding it will cost $1.2 million. Funds for this bridge have been approved by the state, except for $100,000 that can be re-applied for in 2010.
The county also received notification that federal funds in the amount of $1.2 million will go toward building a new bridge around covered bridge 125 (Houck) in Washington Township. The covered bridge will be kept in its current place and used for pedestrian traffic only.
In other business, Tim Gierke with HOP Technologies appeared before commissioners to ask for input on what they need in a new telephone system.
The current system in the courthouse was struck by lightning over a month ago and because of the age of the system, repairs have not been made.
The current phone system was purchased in 1997 at a cost of $28,000. Commissioners are considering buying or leasing a new system that would include T-1 lines, voice mail and new phones. It appears the new system could cost the county half of what they are currently paying in business phone lines ($34-$40 each) and dedicated lines.
Using the T-1s would allow phone lines to be shared and alleviate some of the costs that surround the new system.
"The savings may pay for the new system. We need to crunch the numbers and see," said Kristina Warren.
Commissioners asked HOP to come back with a proposal for the courthouse and the sheriff's office. The system would be the same one that was installed in the new Emergency Operations Center.
Having the same phone system would make communications between the sheriff's office, courthouse, EOC and possibly the annex work more effectively.
Commissioners also heard a request from Jim O'Brien to upgrade the roadway from the railroad tracks to the DePauw Nature Park.
O'Brien told the group that there are no sidewalks and the roadway is crumbling.
"It's basically a one-lane road because of all the pot holes. Somebody is going to get hurt or killed," said O'Brien.
He reminded commissioners that his father complained about the road as far back as 1992 and his mother did the same in 2002.
O'Brien told the group he talked to Nancy Michael when she was mayor and planned on talking with the city's current mayor Sue Murray.
"I'd like to see the city and DePauw come up with some funding. There are no shoulders on the road and it's just crazy down there with trucks, buses going to Mansfield and all the traffic with people going to the Nature Park," said O'Brien.
County Planner Kim Hyten suggested CSX railroad also be contacted because of drainage issues and work on the road.
Commissioners told O'Brien to keep them in the loop with any information or progress he makes with DePauw and the city.