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It may soon be time to say farewell to a unique piece of Joplin - KOAM TV 7

It may soon be time to say farewell to a unique piece of Joplin history

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Carl Junction Chamber of Commerce President Gary Stubblefield has a loss unlike that of many other people.  In 2002, his dad was trying to drive across a bridge on Shoal Creek during a time of flooding.  Stubblefield says his dad was the cautious type, and probably didn't realize the danger.

His vehicle was swept away, and his body still has not been found.

"It took a year to get him legally declared dead, and it probably took an equal amount of time to process that," says Stubblefield.

The nearly 100-year-old bridge, appropriately called Low Water Bridge, is unique.

"I think it was pretty awesome," says Chris Messer, who moved to Joplin from California two weeks ago.

"But for me, building dams and spillways for quite some time, I think the effect of it being so low to the water doesn't accommodate this area," says Messer.

It's looking like concerns, such as Messer's, are outweighing the bridge's uniqueness.  Joplin engineers have met with nearby residents.

"At first, there was a lot of sympathy towards keeping the old bridge," says Dan Salisbury with Joplin's public works department.

But city engineers say residents, on their own, brought up the idea of a new bridge.

"First, the bridge is in very bad condition.  So it's going to have its problems down the road, and it's going to be a maintenance problem," says Salisbury.

Residents want a higher bridge, one that wouldn't catch drifting debris.  But above all, the proposed three million dollar project would also allow cars and people to cross the river more safely.

All in all, it's a proposal that Stubblefield thinks is well worth the cost.

"It cannot possibly cost more than the value of a life," says Stubblefield.

Money for the proposed project would come from both City of Joplin and Newton County funds.  The city is putting together some contracts for engineers to look at ways of building a new bridge over Shoal Creek.  The city hopes to have more public input sessions with residents at a later time.

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