Future of Old Mill Bridge up in the air

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LINDSBORG, Kan. -- The Old Mill Bridge was built in 1914, making it 100 years old this year, but all those years of use have it in a state of disrepair and it is likely to close to traffic.

The truss style bridge allows the town to cross the Smokey Hill River. It is only wide enough to allow one lane of traffic and has proved to be a popular tourist destination.

McPherson County Commissioners met with a Kansas Department of Transportation worker who assessed the bridge under the required carrying capacity. The bridge was supposed to be rated to hold three tons, but fell short according to the KDOT evaluation.

McPherson County Commissioner Duane Patrick said it was not an easy decision to plan on shutting down the bridge. "Planning on shutting it down, you don't like closing stuff, but if it is unsafe and someone gets hurt, that's too late then," Commissioner Patrick said, "it needs to be done before someone can get hurt and that's what could happen."

Commissioner Patrick credits the ailing of the bridge to age and road salt. The bridge is made of metal and the road salts used in winter corroded some of the metal. In order to fix the bridge, the cost was estimated to be around $200,000.

McPherson County Commissioners are planning on shutting down the bridge Tuesday if they decided to shut down the bridge.

Commissioner Patrick says that the bridge will be converted into a walking or bicycle bridge and it will not be torn down if all goes as planned.

Lindsborg resident Lee Becker said she always thought the bridge was dangerous because it was so small and there was so much traffic, but does not want it torn down. "I'm actually happy that the bridge will be a foot bridge or a bicycle bridge and not have heavy traffic. I would rather, much rather see that than have it torn out." Becker said.

Commissioner Patrick meets with the two other county commissioners every Monday at 9 a.m. on the fifth floor in the Bank of America building in Downtown McPherson. He wants county resident with concerns to attend the meeting.


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