REOPENED: Work on high-traffic bridge completed

COLUMBIA CITY — After 11 weeks of reconstruction, one of the most highly traveled bridges in the county was re-opened May 25.Bridge 18, is located on Business 30, crossing the Eel River.“You’ve got all the traffic going to businesses and the industrial park,” said County Engineer Brandon Forrester. “It was the highest impact bridge we have, as far as county bridges.”Several factors played into the decision to reconstruct the bridge — salt and rust damage from 50-plus years of heavy traffic were two of the most compelling reasons, Forrester said.Forrester said data from 2004 indicates there were 3,900 vehicles crossing the bridge each day.Forrester said any structure that is only 19 foot in span, is classified as a small structure and not a bridge. In Whitley County, there are 89 bridges that are 20 feet or longer.Every two years, Forrester said the 89 county bridges are inspected.The new structure of Bridge 18 has a 67 foot span. The old abutments on the bridge were still in good condition, and did not need replaced.“It feels good to get this bridge replaced,” said Forrester.