MIDWAY — Since 1930, the one-lane Weisenberger Mill Bridge has borne the weight of traffic crossing South Elkhorn Creek between Scott and Woodford counties. Now the state is looking at whether to rehabilitate or replace it.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will hold a public meeting Jan. 24 to solicit comments from the public.
"We're trying to figure out whether we're going to rehab it or construct a new two-lane bridge," said Ananias Calvin, project manager with the state Department of Highways District 7 office in Lexington.
The bridge carries vehicles past its namesake, the mill that operates on twin turbines powered by the creek. In its early years, Weisenberger Mill produced soft wheat flour and white cornmeal. Now it offers more than 70 products, from corn muffins to pizza crust mix. The same family has operated the mill since 1865.
Mac Weisenberger said trucks associated with the business come in from Ky. 421 and don't cross the bridge, with a weight limit of 15 tons. (State and county officials have said the bridge probably could not bear the weight of a fire tanker loaded with water.)
The span is heavily traveled. In 2011, about 1,155 vehicles crossed the bridge each day, according to an average daily traffic count taken by the state.
"In the mornings and afternoons, there are cars just whizzing by here," Weisenberger said.
The amount of traffic is surprising and raises a question that Calvin wants to put to the public: "Should we leave this a one-lane bridge?"
On the other hand, some in the department hope to save this particular truss bridge, given its historic association with the mill, Calvin said.
"You see the stone walls in the mill, and you have stone in the (bridge) abutments," Calvin said.
Whatever happens with the bridge, the state anticipates that it would take only one construction season to complete. The work would not start until next year.
"We hope people come out and give us their opinion of what they'd like to see out there, whether they want a two-lane bridge or if they want to keep their historic bridge," Calvin said. "We think it's very important that people who travel on that road have a say on what we do on this bridge."