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When the wooden bridge that crosses the railroad on County Road 216 off of C blacktop burned in July, the effects have lingered months after the smoke cleared.
Residents in the Elmira area that relied on the bridge can still travel across with most passenger cars and trucks, but the fire compromised the weight restrictions.
“These folks have been taking their children across the bridge to meet the bus, and emergency vehicles are denied access because their gross vehicle weight exceeds the compromised weight limits,” said Ray County Commissioner Allen Dale. “With the weight capacity reduced, emergency vehicles and even school buses can’t get to them.”
The county commissioners voted unanimously to open an emergency road nearby to alleviate those problems while the bridge awaits more thorough repairs under the control of the railroad.
“We’re fixing an outside road that hasn’t been used for a long time,” said Dale. “It’s been abandoned, but we’re redoing about three-eighths of a mile of it. We had to survey that road. The contractors and Presiding Commissioner Jeff Adams and Commissioner-elect Mike Twyman are out there right now looking it over.”
Dale said no state money would be used on the old county road. Basically, the work required to re-open that portion of road amounts to new road construction.
“There’s some tree removal to do, then we’ll install some tubes and put the gravel base down,” Dale said.
A rough estimate of cost for the emergency road is around $25,000. The work will commence this month. According to Dale, the road should be ready by mid-January with Mother Nature’s cooperation.