Monday, September 12, 2016

New Weisenberger Mill bridge will have pony trusses like the one that has been closed, but no walkway

By Marissa Beucler
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

When the state replaces the 86-year-old Weisenberger Mill Bridge next year, it will try to maintain some of the historical character that made some oppose its replacement.

The small trusses called pony trusses can be seen in this state photo of the bridge.
The new two-lane bridge will include pony trusses, which are the most visible shape of the one-lane bridge and a marker of its historical value.

Casey Smith, the Transportation Cabinet manager of the project, said a very important piece of the construction is “being able to preserve the environment. It’s a historical district.”

Some wanted the bridge to remain one-lane, for historical reasons, but the cabinet determined that a two-lane bridge is necessary for safety and ease of traffic.

The bridge over South Elkhorn Creek has been an instrumental component in the area since it was built in the early 1930s. It is next to the Weisenberger Mill, which was founded in 1865 and built its current structure in 1913. Initially, a primary purpose of the bridge was to expedite the distribution of the mill’s flour and cornmeal products to its customers within the region.

Some neighbors of the bridge fear the loss of its historical value, as well as the likelihood of increased traffic and speed with two lanes.

The state Office of Historic Preservation did an inspection on the bridge, looking for any parts that could be kept and reused, and the cabinet is seeking proposals for dismantling and relocating it.

“The best thing from the safety and economic standpoint would be to go in and replace the entire bridge in addition to 70 more years of life,” Smith said. Heavy trucks violating increasingly lower weight limits have put the bridge in bad condition, and a state inspection found it to be unsafe for vehicle and pedestrian traffic. It was closed July 1.

Federal money has been added to the the project, which is projected to begin in January with an estimated total construction cost of $1.3 million. The work is expected to take one construction season.

Small pieces of property are being purchased to accommodate the new bridge, as well as temporary construction easements.

The bridge is a scenic spot where photos of the mill, dam and creek are often taken, but the new span will not have a pedestrian walkway.

“With every project we do, bicycle and pedestrian considerations are always talked about while we make our decisions,” Smith said. A main focus of the replacement is to widen the bridge, and adding a walkway would add to the width needed for a safe two-lane bridge, she said.


Bryan Pryor said...

As a resident directly impacted by this project I do not feel this project is as positive as it is being reported. In this project neither the county nor the state are addressing safety of the approach ways on either side of the bridge. The 80 degree curve on the Woodford County side cannot accommodate increased speed or capacity without putting driver and pedestrian traffic at risk. Nor can the historical nature of the area be preserved under conditions of this project as they are currently defined. Deed restriction changes by Woodford County makes me responsible for maintenance of the historic wall. The pavement edge is 20 inches from the historical wall with Weisenberger millstones. I made one very expensive repair in the last year due to inappropriate vehicular traffic that did not belong on these small country roads. Finding a historically responsible millstone was nearly an impossible feat. I may not have this luxury when future accidents happen. More is at stake here then people realize. The Weisenberger family is as equally frustrated for safety and historical reasons. Does the bridge need replaced? Absolutely! Does it need to be two lane? Absolutely not! It could be a wider one lane with a pedestrian and tourism lane but the Kentucky department of transportation will not consider such out of the box thinking.

Barbara Phelps said...

Living two properties away from the bridge, I am very aware of the amount of traffic on Weisenberger Mill and the excessive speed drivers have when approaching the bridge from the Scott county side. As a historic and scenic site there is a large amount of pedestrian traffic on the bridge and yet the state won't entertain the idea of a pedestrian walk way. The current one lane bridge slows traffic as it approaches the sharp turn on the Woodford county side. A two lane bridge will encourage excessive speed and increase the number of incidents of those who fail to negotiate the turn. Communication with the state on this project has been difficult and it appears that the concerns of those most affected by the bridge have gone unheard.

The intersection of Weisenberger Mill and Leestown Road is extremely dangerous one with accidents on a monthly basis. A two lane bridge will only encourage more traffic and larger vehicles adding to the congestion and danger at this location. Such a disappointing and frustrating decision on the part of this project manager.

Barbara Phelps

Ellen Rardin Bagby said...

Conservation of a historically imperative site for Midway, KY. Conservation of Weisenberger Mill owned by Mac and Phillip Weisenberger. Pointing out that the "wrecks" posted in the Woodford Sun were and are inaccurate to say wrecks happen "on the bridge" when they do NOT occur ON the bridge, but further down after the bridge. My "interest" is also when I asked the workers two weeks (prior to the announcement made in the Woodford Sun) the blueprints they showed me and my mother was to initially expand the bridge by two feet- not what was said in the paper at all.
I am also concerned for the well being of my animals and livestock. If the bridge is changed to what was stated in the Woodford Sun- that means 18 wheelers will be using the road due to it being a faster route than taking Leestown all the way to Midway and coming back around.
- [ ] The beauty, historical and relevance of the bridge has brought people to gather for fun of fun of fishing, swimming, and a safe environment to come to with much beauty and simplicity of old times; which as we know when you get off the interstate for Midway now you have the smell of grease from McDonald's. Lets preserve what we are still able to and not allow such an atrocity to happen any further to our farming town.