Putnam County indeed has a really nice collection of historic bridges from wood to steel to concrete......and little desire to adequately maintain them.
They ride Parke County's coat-tails in regards to their "advertising" of the 9 remaining covered spans, but have shied away from National Register listing them for fear it will jeopardize just HOW they maintain them.
The Hibbs Ford Bridge has been the lone bright spot in the county's metal truss collection. A few of the through trusses have been closed while their fate is decided, while one (Appleby Ford) was quietly demolished. Federal funding has been skirted on several pony truss spans with the county replacing them 100% out-of-pocket.
A diverse collection of concrete spans hasn't fared much better with only the Reelsville Bridge seeing restoration so far. Even with that, a new (and grossly overbuilt) bypass towers over it....as if to try and block it from view.
I know I am totally bashing Putnam County here, but I just want them to appreciate these irreplaceable landmarks ....before there is little left to appreciate..........
I made a Putnam County bridge tour in the summer of 2010 -- there are lots of great old spans in Putnam County. But this one really stands out and was worth a trip to see just by itself. I'm glad to know something of its restoration story. Hard to believe that $200k brought it to this great condition!
I did a couple of "drop-in" inspections on the rehab of this bridge while I was with J.A.Barker Engineering in 2006. It just goes to show that a bridge can be adequately restored in-kind and not break the budget. I was inspecting the rehabilitation of the Hays Bridge in Hancock County at the same time, and it is really hard to tell that over $500,000 less was spent on this nice little span.
Here is the interesting story on this bridge, according to James Cooper:
Hired consultant suggested county rehab this bridge to 12 tons for over $1,000,000. This plan fell through because InDOT did not approve the project for 80%/20% funding.
Then, an Indiana historian convinced the county to hire a different engineer who was able to rehab this bridge to a greater limit of 15 tons… for a cost of only $200,000 a mere 20% of the original consultant’s estimate for a lower weight limit rehab! So the county spent the same they were planning to spend with the aid, but the bridge was rehabbed without that 80% aid, thus saving tax dollars, while getting a better rehab too!