Photo by Brett Nachtigall/Fall River County Herald
Looking west towards the town of Ardmore, this photo shows where the former bridge once stood (on right) and where the new temporary road was built (on left) to allow for safe passage across Long Branch Creek. A ‘Road Closed’ sign blocks both sides of the road to deter large trucks, but smaller local vehicles can get through.
By Brett Nachtigall
ARDMORE – A potential emergency situation was quickly remedied last week after a bridge on East Ardmore Road collapsed, during the evening of Saturday, April 6.
Located on the eastern edge of the town of Ardmore, the bridge expands over Long Branch Creek and represents the only crossing in that area for 50 miles, according to Fall River County Emergency Manager Frank Maynard.
At a special meeting of the Fall River County Commissioners on Tuesday, April 9, for them to approve a Disaster Declaration Resolution in an attempt to secure FEMA funding to replace the bridge, it was announced by Commission Chair Joe Falkenburg and Highway Superintendent Randy Seiler, that a work around had been constructed in the area to allow temporary passage for motorists.
Upon further review of the situation, Falkenburg and Seiler both said that they felt the bridge could be replaced with large box culverts, which is a quicker and much less expensive option than a full bridge replacement.
“I’m really pretty happy,” Falkenburg said. “We thought it might be weeks or months.”
Seiler said most of the old bridge had been removed by Monday, April 8, and that work was continuing on Tuesday. He added that Steve Simunek had been hired for use of his excavator to move dirt and help create the roadway around.
Commissioner Joe Allen expressed his pleasure with how soon county crews were able to react and get it reopened after only three days.
Seiler said the cost of a temporary bridge to be placed there would have cost the county $13,000 to install, another $13,000 to eventually remove it, and the $2,600 for the first month’s rent and then $1,000 for every month afterwards. He said the county could also purchase the bridge outright for $60,000.
Seiler also added that he suspected muskrats contributed to the old bridge’s eventual demise, as their burroughing over time had weakened its foundation.