Twisted Paoli bridge makes historic move to land

PAOLI, Ind. (WDRB) - A historic bridge that leads straight to the town square in Paoli, Ind., crumpled on Christmas Day 2015.

On Friday, people gathered to snap pictures as it was moved onto land to be rebuilt.

"I keep an eye on it quite a bit, make sure they're doing it right," said Kenny Robbins, who lives near the bridge.

"It's ridiculous, but they're doing it!" laughed Mary Radcliffe, who also lives nearby.

She calls it ridiculous because of how it all happened. On Christmas Day in 2015, officials say the driver of a semi, Mary Lambright, was carrying six times the posted limit when she tried to cross it.

"It should never have happened," Radcliffe said. "No trucks allowed ... It should never have happened, but it did."

The crumpled mess of a bridge that was built in the 1800s has sat for over a year while insurance and quotes came together. Now, crews have been working on it for about a month. Friday was the big day, as crews had to hoist 34,000 pounds of history onto land.  

"With the accident, it was so twisted. It wouldn't pick up straight," said Lee Reitmeyer, general superintendent with CLR Construction.

Crews lifted the bridge to the pavement where it will be rebuilt right next to the creek where it normally crosses.

The concern was that it could fall into the creek.

"You don't know what it's going to do when you pick it up," Reitmeyer said. "It held good, a couple adjustments of cables."

The bridge made it safely to land, where rehab work will begin. "

Try to just slowly go through and fix anything that's bent," Reitmeyer said. "The parts that we've cut off, we'll build new."

Until it is finished, residents will still have to detour.

"We have to drive around, which we use this several times a day," Robbins said.

It should cost around $700,000, and county commissioners say the trucking company's insurance is expected to take up the full tab. Reitmeyer says the bridge should be finished and back over the creek by July, if not sooner.

The driver of the semi faces jail time and fines. She has a trial scheduled for March.

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