Even with the majority of a $5-plus million project being paid by state and federal sources, the Putnam County Commissioners are unsure of a plan to replace Dunbar Bridge with a modern bridge a quarter mile upstream.
County highway co-supervisor Jim Smith presented a contract between Putnam County and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) at Tuesday's commissioners meeting. Under the matching grant program, the county would have to pay $1.2 million of the price tag for the new bridge.
However, commissioners Nancy Fogle and Gene Beck expressed misgivings about spending the county's highway money on the bridge, saying quite a bit of roadwork could be done with $1.2 million.
If nothing is done, the current bridge would be maintained until it is no longer viable. At that point, the road would simply terminate on either side of Big Walnut Creek.
This would, however, create a safety and accessibility problem for residents living on the north side of the creek, isolating them from Greencastle, except by a circuitous route.
Smith also reminded the commissioners that the matching grant is a one-time deal. If the county turns the money down, it will not be available again.
The commissioners are seeking public input on the matter, particularly from area residents at or before their next meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19 at the Courthouse Annex.
If the county moves forward with the replacement plan, the road would go straight across Big Walnut at the upstream location, before turning west on the north bank of the creek. It would rejoin the current road just north of the current bridge.
The covered bridge would remain in place as a historic monument, but no longer open to traffic.
With Dunbar Bridge still open for now, the matter of repairing damage from an August accident was also addressed. The bid submitted by Trisler Construction was chosen to make the repairs.
Smith also announced that Clark Dietz will do the preliminary engineering work on the rehabilitation of Baker's Camp Covered Bridge.