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Bridge removal causes divide among neighbors

June 28, 1999

Park Hall Road BridgeBy GREG SIMMONS / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




ROHRERSVILLE - Some residents near Park Hall Road want to get their points across about a missing bridge, posting signs telling detoured drivers who they believe is responsible for the gap in the road.

[cont. from front page]

Washington County tore down the one-lane bridge that once carried motorists over a small creek and planned to replace it with a two-lane bridge.

The plans hit a glitch, however, when three landowners decided against selling the county the property needed for the expansion.

"Public Notice: The Park Hall Road bridge has been closed indefinitely due to the actions of some of our 'neighbors,'" reads a neon-green sign posted beneath the detour sign at the intersection of Park Hall and Raspberry roads.

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The sign goes on to suggest that those wishing to get to the "truth" call Gary Rohrer, Washington County director of public works. It also suggests that people concerned about the bridge write to the Washington County Commissioners "attn: Greg Snook - President."

Bridge signJim Griffin posted the sign after getting the impression from county officials that the bridge might not be replaced due to the actions of his neighbors, his daughter Jessica said Monday.

Jim Griffin was out of town on vacation and could not be reached for comment Monday, she said.

Attached to the bottom of the green sign, on a piece of white vinyl siding, is another sign, this one asking readers to "Please call your neighbor on 432-8128 for the real story. Thanks - Tom Berry."

Berry said the saga began in January when Washington County Public Works representatives began talking to him and two other property owners on Park Hall Road about buying some property to replace the bridge.

According to a copy of the county's plans Berry obtained, the old one-lane bridge was to be replaced with a two-lane bridge and a section of the road was to be widened.

To make room for the expansion, the county wanted to purchase some land from Berry, Gerald Rohrer and Gerald Rohrer Jr.

With those discussions under way, the county removed the old bridge without warning, Berry said. "The mail carrier didn't even know," he said.

Berry decided to try to block the county's plans for the expansion and to try to convince officials to replace the one-lane bridge. He said he and the Rohrers believe the expansion is unnecessary and costly and could lead to development in their neighborhood.

They refused to sell their land to the county, said County Administrator Rodney Shoop.

As a result, the project has been delayed.

The missing bridge means residents have to drive a mile out of their way to leave the neighborhood.

Some worry that until the bridge is replaced, emergency vehicles won't have direct access and a detour route will be unsafe in the winter, said Ed Itnyre, a resident of nearby Raspberry Road.

"We need a bridge," he said.

Gary Rohrer, no relation to the Park Hall Road residents, said leaving the old bridge in place would have been "flirting with chance."

The county's planned upgrades will meet modern safety standards, he said.

"This isn't 'bureaucracy' but sound pro-active design for safer passage of vehicles," he said.

Shoop said installing another one-lane bridge as Berry and the Rohrers propose would not be worth the county's "time, money or effort."

Gary Rohrer said the project would cost $137,367 for a two-lane version and $122,367 for a one-lane structure, excluding land acquisition. The county has the permits to proceed with the two-lane plan, he said.

Once final approval for the work is given, it should take 90 to 120 days to complete, Gary Rohrer said.

In the meantime, residents want a clear path to the main highway.

Berry agreed. He is asking residents to speak at the citizens participation portion of the County Commissioners' meeting at 7 p.m. today at the County Administration Building.

"They need to get off the dime and fix the bridge," he said.

Shoop said it is the county's hope that as a result of negotiations and today's meeting the property owners will change their minds and agree to sell the land.

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