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Group concerned with future of "low water bridge" - KOAM TV 7

Group concerned with future of "low water bridge"

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Roderick Harsh recalls decades of good times at Joplin's low water bridge on Shoal Creek. He can remember as far back as being brought there by his grandparents.

"Well anybody that's lived in Joplin for any period of time over the last five or six generations knows about the low water bridge," Harsh said.

Those memories fuel Harsh and a number of other individuals to band together to save the future of the bridge. The city of Joplin is in the very early stages of discussing the bridge's future, which could include its demise and replacement of a newer, taller, cement bridge.

"Our group doesn't have anything against the city for building a new bridge but our concern is placing a big modern cement bridge with high sides and everything on it right in the middle of this park would be just dividing the park. It would take away a lot of the scenic beauty in this area," Harsh said.

The area Harsh mentions is McIndoe park, an area with walking trails, wildlife and sounds of Shoal Creek running over rocks.

The city points out that there is a maintenance issue with the bridge, particularly with the late December floods. 

"It blocks debris coming downstream, it's a maintenance issue, after the big flood we had several trees that had to be removed, we had to repair the end of it," assistant director of public works Dan Salisbury said.

Not to mention, a safety issue.

"We've lost two lives. And a lot of times, people ask us "well how many people have to die before you actually do something?" and so here's an opportunity to consider all of that," Salisbury said.

Harsh argues that the damage to the bridge by floods was cosmetic, and that it could be years before the bridge's fate is decided.

The demolition and rebuilding of the newer model would cost the city and Newton County $3 million. 

"But we have to stay on this and let people know that this is a possibility that this bridge could be removed," Harsh said.

The group has a goal of gathering 5,000 signatures on the petition by June 1. The signatures do not guarantee the bridge will stay, it just shows the community cares.

The bridge has been a fixture in the area since 1919, and is often a hub for fishing, wading and even baptisms.

"Even if it takes a little money to make it better, it's something we've all grown up with. This bridge can be saved," Harsh said.

City of Joplin has just recently hired an engineer to map out the flood plane and produce a hydraulic model. Salisbury said it would be "irresponsible" for them to make a decision without those pieces.

To read testimonies on the "save low water bridge" group petition, visit https://www.change.org/p/joplin-city-council-and-newton-county-save-joplin-s-historic-low-water-bridge.


 

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