Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Officials in dispute over Linwood bridge

June 27, 2001

The Leavenworth County Commission and the city of Linwood are having a difference of opinion as to the ownership of a nearly century- old bridge.

Heavy flooding along Stranger Creek June 21 caused a 94-year-old bridge in Linwood to fall eight feet below its original height.

Earlier this week, the county commissioners asked the Linwood City Council for permission to seek out bids to have the bridge removed. It is the fear of the county commissioners that if another flood hits Stranger Creek, the bridge could get swept into a Union Pacific railroad bridge 100 feet away.

"We don't have any documentation that says the bridge is our property," Linwood Mayor Keith Schellert said. "As far as we know, the bridge belongs to the county. They are the ones who always maintain it."

Leavenworth County Commissioner Joe Daniels said the bridge in question belongs to the city of Linwood because it is within the city limits.

"As I understand it, the bridge is owned by the city," Daniels said. "It is maintained by the county, but it is within the city limits so it is city property."

The county commissioners aren't the only ones concerned about the condition of the dilapidated bridge.

Union Pacific officials said nearly 100 trains a day pass over their nearby bridge and if further flooding pushed the Linwood bridge down stream, then the railroad bridge could be destroyed as well.

Sprint officials are worried because the company has fiber-optic telephone lines running underneath the railroad bridge that serve long distance calls to cities such as Fort Worth, Chicago, St. Louis and the Kansas Cities.

On Tuesday night, the Linwood City Council approved a motion to send the county commissioners a response letter to their inquiry.

"Basically what it is going to say is that the city of Linwood has no objections to the county doing anything to their own bridge," Schelert said.

The Linwood City Council is concerned about getting a new bridge if the old one is torn down. Linwood officials said more than 100 cars a day go over the bridge because it is an easier way for residents to travel to Bonner Springs, Kansas City and Johnson County.

In addition, the council also thinks the bridge has some historical value to the residents of the city, Schelert said.

For now, the bridge is still in the same condition that it was when it first snapped, which is what Linwood resident Dwayne Call thought would happen when he saw it fall.

Call, who also works on the City Public Works Department, said he had been checking the bridge all morning long when he came into work the day it fell.

Two Linwood residents had just stepped off the bridge when they noticed a crack had followed them back to the road, Call said.

"From there, it just dropped," Call said. "It dropped a couple of feet and then grabbed, and that's where it is now."

The destruction of the bridge was just one case of how the flooding at Stranger Creek hurt the city of Linwood.

Schellert said the city has lost as much as 20 feet of ground due to land erosion caused by high waters. In losing the ground the city also lost several pieces of excess piping and roofing, Schelert said.

Also in danger of falling into the creek is a city-owned shed, which previously housed city maintenance equipment and is currently hanging over the side of the creek bank.

The Linwood City Council will be asking the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to review the situation near the creek and make repairs to prevent further damage to city property.

"Something needs to be done," Schelert said. "We are losing ground an inch at a time everyday."

Several houses in the city near Stranger Creek were notified of the rising waters and were advised to evacuate. One home across the creek was evacuated, Leavenworth County Sheriff's Department officials said.

Although the rising waters caused the city of Linwood several headaches, there have been no reports of any injuries because of the flood.

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