Crews to begin repairing historic bridge in Paoli - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Crews to begin repairing historic bridge in Paoli

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Work will soon begin to fix a historic bridge that collapsed in Paoli, Ind., on Christmas Day. 

Residents are glad to hear that work will start in a few months on the one-lane iron bridge over Lick Creek in downtown Paoli. It collapsed after a semi truck got stuck while trying to cross. 

"It was like an animal in a trap, this big white semi," said Linda Lee, a Paoli resident. "It was so wedged in there," said her husband, Andy Mahler.

Months later, the Gospel Street Bridge is crumpled with weeds climbing all over it. Officials say the driver, Mary Lambright, was carrying six times the posted limit.

"I made the mistake, and I'm so very sorry it happened," said Lambright in an interview during a court appearance in January.

The closure of the bridge has been an inconvenience for Paoli residents who must use an alternate route. "

Well, we have to break the law every day," Mahler said. "Andy! You're on TV!" his wife laughed.

The couple comes into town every day and used to cross the bridge on their solar powered golf cart. Now, they must detour with it onto state roads, which is not permitted. They are happy to hear the bridge will be salvaged.

"We always loved everything about it, the feel of it, the look of it," Mahler said. "The sound when you went over it, "Bmrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!" Lee imitated, laughing.

"And the fact that it's a piece of history ... It was built in the 1800s."

Others like Steve Free would have liked to have seen a modern bridge in its place, while re-purposing the old bridge.

"I still think that the old bridge could've been saved and put somewhere where it could be used as a walking bridge somewhere in this town and saved," Free said.

Work to rehab the bridge should start in a few months. It has taken months to get quotes and deal with the trucking company's insurance.

"Basically, what they're planning to do is pick the bridge up off the stream, set it in the street just south of where it's placed, and rebuild it right there on the street, and then set it back on the foundation," said Don Brewer, President of the Orange County Commissioners.

Brewer expects it will cost around $700,000 instead of the original quote of over $1 million.

"If that's the case, we're fairly certain the insurance company will take up the full tab so the taxpayers won't be out any money at all," Brewer said.

County leaders are also looking at adding height clearance bars before the bridge to deter large trucks from trying to cross it. Work should be finished in the spring.

"Well we will be among the first to cross it when it's rehabbed," Mahler said. "And if there's a ceremony to rededicate it, we will certainly be here."

The driver has a trial scheduled for March. She faces fines and jail time on a charge related to the wreck.

Related Stories:

Truck wedges itself in Paoli bridge, causing it to collapse

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