Archive for Wednesday, July 25, 2001

County to tear down old Linwood bridge

July 25, 2001

The life of a 94-year-old bridge that fell off its moorings due to rising floodwaters in Linwood has come to an end.

"We have asked the engineer to go out and secure bids to have the bridge removed," Leavenworth County Commissioner Joe Daniels said.

On June 21, the iron bridge in Linwood dropped eight feet below its original height. It appeared the bridge would eventually fall into Stranger Creek but it remains standing.

Daniels said through discussions with the county engineer, as well as other engineering firms, restoring the bridge is not an option.

"It is not reasonable to think of putting it back on because the bridge is buckled somewhat in the middle," Daniels said. "It has to be considered safe so they're probably not going to salvage it."

There was discussion from Linwood officials about the possibility of restoring the bridge because of its value to the residents of Linwood for both transportation and historical value.

Linwood officials estimated that approximately 100 cars use the bridge as a quicker way to get to Bonner Springs, Johnson County and Kansas City, Kan.

Daniels said he didn't know if or when the city of Linwood would get another bridge.

"If there was ever a bridge that would be put back there, it would be more of a modern-day bridge that would have a larger weight limit," Daniels said.

Although the destruction of the bridge seems eminent, one California woman is trying to avoid the action by soliciting federal funds to restore the bridge.

Mary Ward Kennedy is the granddaughter of the man who built the bridge in 1907. Kennedy said she has been in contact with the American Society for Historical Preservation in hopes of obtaining a grant that would help raise and anchor the bridge.

"Towns like Linwoodbypassed by the four lanes and the grain trainsare pieces of history frozen in time. And they are real. Linwood was not thrown together by some entrepreneur from Hollywood or Las Vegas for pretend farmers. It is lived in by real people who care about it and its future," Kennedy said in a letter to the Sentinel.

Just how the bridge will be removed remains in question.

Daniels said the County Commission is entertaining bids on the complete removal of the bridge, or dismantling the bridge and setting it off to the side of Stranger Creek.

Another possibility was destroying the bridge and letting it fall into the creek, but the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corp of Engineers probably would have been against that action, Daniels said.

The Commission's main concern is the dilapidated state of the Linwood bridge and the safety of a Union Pacific railroad bridge 100 feet downstream. Should more heavy floodwaters come through Stranger Creek, the Linwood bridge could disable the railroad bridge, Daniels said.

"That would be one of the concerns you would have to think of because if the bridge would fall into the creek it may impact the other bridge," he said. "It wouldn't be a good thing from anybody's perspective. We want to get it out of there as soon as we can."

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