Archive for Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Linwood bridge becomes icon of town’s past

December 12, 2001

A Union Pacific Railroad bridge now stands as the only direct link over Stranger Creek in the city of Linwood.

The 94-year-old bridge that connected Linwood to the east side of the creek was dismantled recently.

Russ Stark of Leavenworth Excavating and Equipment Company said there were few complications in removing the Linwood bridge that stood about 200 yards upstream from the railroad bridge.

"It only took six or seven days to take it down," Stark said. "We got the deck off and the upper part of steel off. The bottom part fell into the channel."

Heavy flooding along Stranger Creek June 21 caused the nearly century-old bridge to fall eight feet below its original height.

At the time, Linwood and Leavenworth County officials were worried that the bridge would collapse into the creek and drift into the Union Pacific bridge downstream.

In addition to the approximately 100 trains that cross the Linwood bridge a day, the bridge also has long-distance telephone lines running below.

A dispute between city and county officials ensued concerning the bridge's ownership when the bridge was first damaged.

The choice to remove the bridge was made when it was determined the bridge belonged to the county.

Leavenworth County Commissioner Joe Daniels said the county had no choice in removing the bridge.

"It was something we had to do," Daniels said. "It's an old bridge with a low weight limit. Rather than waste money with something that wasn't going to increase (use) we decided to go this route."

The dismantling of the bridge is not only disappointing to Linwood officials and residents from a historical standpoint, but also hinders transportation uses.

"The bridge is going to be sorely missed," said Ed Morris, a Linwood City Council member. "It was a link for people to Johnson County and De Soto."

Morris estimated 20 to 30 Linwood residents used the bridge as a quicker way to get to work on an average day.

There are no plans from either the Leavenworth County Commission or the city of Linwood to replace the bridge.

"I have heard no inkling whatsoever to replace it," Morris said. "The city of Linwood doesn't have the money to replace it. We had tried to maintain it as best we could."

For Linwood city officials, the loss of the bridge is indicative of a bigger problem, Morris said.

Whenever Stranger Creek experiences significant flooding, the city loses land along the creek banks. During the summer, Linwood officials estimated the city lost at least 20 feet due to land erosion from the flooding.

It is a problem Morris hopes can be fixed.

"Something needs to be done," Morris said. "We have tried to get the Corps of Engineers to do something but nothing has happened yet. We are losing land."

The destruction of the bridge could also mean emergency service vehicles would have a tougher time in getting to the small, southern Leavenworth County town.

Morris said the loss of the bridge is also disappointing from a historical standpoint.

"I think the community is at a loss for it," he said. "It was a 100-year-old bridge with a 100 years of history behind it.

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