WILMORE — The state Transportation Cabinet is monitoring the condition of a stone bridge in Jessamine County that was damaged by a crane during clean-up from the May flood.
Several engineers have been on site to inspect the Glass Mill Four-Arch Bridge southeast of Wilmore, said Tim Vaughan, a magistrate with Jessamine Fiscal Court.
Some cracks appeared in the bridge after a crane was put on top of the span in mid-May to remove trees and debris that had piled against it during the flooding earlier that month, Vaughan said.
"The engineers looked at it and they thought, structurally, it's fine but that it needs to be looked at on a regular basis," Vaughan said.
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Immediately after repairs were made to the bridge, inspectors looked at it "every two or three days," said Natasha Lacy, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Highways District 7 office in Lexington.
The bridge is now monitored once a month, and as time goes by it will be monitored less and less, Lacy said in an e-mail responding to questions about the damage.
The damage occurred when the 25-ton crane's outriggers penetrated the asphalt surface of the bridge and lodged against the rock wall on the upstream side of the span. The outriggers are legs and pads that balance the crane. As more debris was removed, the upstream wall cracked and shifted outward by about an inch, Lacy said.
"After reviewing the damage, it appears that the integrity of the bridge was not compromised, and despite the slight outward shift in the rock wall, the structure appears stable," Lacy wrote in the e-mail.
A crew from Boyle County filled in the cracked area, and state workers repaired the asphalt on the bridge.
"Since the repairs have been made we have not found any evidence of continuing problems, as no movement and no cracks have been detected during our monitoring phase," Lacy said.
Vaughan said he spoke with a state engineer who assured him that the bridge is safe.
"I asked him point-blank, if your kids were going across on a school bus, would you feel safe about that and he said, 'Yes,'" Vaughan said. "I just wanted assurance from them that it was fine to keep the bridge open and he said it was, and they would monitor it on a regular basis. He assured me it was safe for vehicles to go on."
Lacy's e-mail indicated that some people within the state thought a crane should not have been used "as it would be too large and too much weight for the old historic bridge."
Inspectors had advised that cutting the trees into small pieces and removing them with a backhoe from the stream bank would be the best way to remove the debris. That method had been used in the last few times debris was removed.
But Lacy said a crane was needed in this particular case because the debris could not be removed without it, Lacy said.
The European-style limestone bridge was part of a Works Progress Administration project in the mid-1930s.
The bridge is among the scenic Kentucky spots photographed by James Archambeault. A shot of the bridge reflected in Jessamine Creek is on his Web site at www.jamesarchambeault.com/kentucky_nature_photograph.htm.
If no problems are detected in the future, the bridge monitoring will return to a check schedule of once every 24 months, Lacy said.
"If we do find any issue at all that concerns us, we will take appropriate action," she said.