• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Weisenberger Mill Bridge: one-lane in ’18

THE WEISENBERGER MILL BRIDGE has been closed since July 1, 2016, but Midway’s city clerk said a key Transportation Cabinet official told her it will be rebuilt next year – and kept as a one-lane bridge. (Photo submitted)

State Transportation Cabinet officials are finally, if fitfully, revealing their plans for the Weisenberger Mill Bridge, which was closed July 1, 2016, over to safety concerns. In an email last week to the Midway City Council shared with The Sun, clerk Sonya Conner wrote, “Per the mayor’s request, I contacted District 7 in regards to the Weisenberger Mill Bridge. The engineer on the job called me this morning to report that, at this time, they are going to build a single lane bridge over the existing space and re-build the abutments. They do not have a start date at this time, but should be meeting in the next couple of weeks to try and work out the details. He assures me there will be no work done until sometime next year. I will follow up with him at a later time to get updates on this project.” On Monday, Conner said she couldn’t find the slip of paper with the name of the engineer she referred to in the email, but believed he was Ananias Calvin III, whom The Sun interviewed a month after the bridge was closed. Built in 1932, the bridge connects Scott and Woodford counties over Elkhorn Creek. An Oct. 24 news release from the Transportation Cabinet’s District 7 office spoke of an “alternate plan” to reuse some elements of the bridge that fit within “the context of the environment” and provide a structure safe for the public and emergency vehicles. The release did not discuss the timetable or whether the rebuilt bridge would be one or two lanes. Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he asked Conner to inquire about the Cabinet’s plans for the bridge because he’s received many inquiries on the subject, especially after the Oct. 24 news release. “We’ll probably know a little bit more a few weeks from now,” Vandegrift said before adding, “Well, maybe – we might know a little more.” In the August 2016 interview, Calvin told The Sun that the projected start date for the project had been pushed back from October of that year to January of 2017. “That’s … because to widen the bridge from a single lane to a two-lane, we’re going to have to purchase some property. It’s really going to be minor acquisitions, so it won’t be a lot, but it’s going to be some …” Calvin said. “Two lanes is probably what it’s going to be,” Calvin said, adding that state and federal standards (state officials hope for federal funds to help pay for the then-$1.38 million project) mandate that a two-lane bridge be installed on a two-lane road. Vandegrift said his main goal was to see the project done safely. “I think keeping it one lane is exciting for those who are happy about the fact that it’s staying with its historical integrity, but I think there are some concerns that … you’re going to have a one-lane bridge there,” Vandegrift said. “But if the state feels that it’s safe, I’m all for it. More than anything, they just need to get that road back open.” Doug Elam, who’s one of more than a dozen local residents who signed up to be “consulting parties” for the historical review process, lives with his wife, Cathy, just a hundred yards or so away from the bridge. The Elams and many who live near the bridge want it to remain a one-lane structure. Last December, he told The Sun, “If you … put a bridge in that’s twice as wide as has been there for 80 years, it’s going to look way out of place and way out of scale. It’s also going to impact the functionality, the use of it now, as far as people walking across, taking pictures, painting, doing that type of thing. People now feel safe enough to walk across the one-lane bridge because people have to slow down.” Last Friday, Elam said he was very pleased by reports of the Transportation Cabinet’s new plans for the old bridge. “I’m really encouraged, not just for the looks … of the bridge, but also for the safety of that area due to the curves on both sides approaching the bridge. I think the one-lane bridge has a safety element involved and also just (has) a calming effect on that whole area,” Elam said. During a call to the state Transportation Cabinet headquarters, spokesman Keith Buckhout requested that questions on the subject be emailed to him. The Sun emailed those questions that afternoon, but, as of six days later, hadn’t responded.

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