February 10, 2013

OUR VIEW: It’s time for bridge to finally go

— The 81-year-old Anoka Bridge is an accident waiting to happen.


We’ve known that for far too long now. The old wooden bridge on 250 South has been closed since the summer of 2004. We reported then that there were plans to demolish the structure.

Then in 2009, the project appeared on the county’s wish list for stimulus funding.

In 2011, we heard again the Cass County Highway Department was working with Winamac-Southern Railway to develop a feasible way to tear down the structure.

Now, this week, we’re told the department is seeking quotes from contractors to have the bridge removed. We’re hopeful this time’s the charm. Given the increasingly deteriorating state of the structure, we’re very hopeful.

Back in 2011, county officials said they were concerned about the wood decking deteriorating. Pieces could start falling off, they worried.

We’re there.

We were told this week pieces of wood are falling onto trains as they pass under the bridge.

To make matters worse, county officials say a big concern is that juveniles are using the bridge as a hangout spot. Officials are calling it an “attractive nuisance.”

Whatever you call it, it needs to finally come down. If the bridge collapses on a passing train, it’ll be more costly in the end.

We don’t even want to think about if it collapses on a juvenile. We shouldn’t have to.

We understand there’s been a number of obstacles in the way of demolition over the years, and we’ve seen county and railway officials working well together to find a solution. But now’s the time to act and make it happen. We’re encouraged that the county has put out for bids for a contractor to tear down the structure. We’re told demolition is set for the spring of 2013.

We’re hopeful this time’s the charm. It’s time for the liability to go.