Task 2.1: Reconsider access to the bridge.

 

Established access routes to the bridge.

 

The roads in the vicinity of the bridge have been rerouted from time to time. The following maps show all of the alignments that have existed over the last several decades. All of the routes shown in the buff color were at one time public rights-of-way. The distance from the Clements Bridge to Highway 50 is about one-half mile.

1stroute.jpg

Original road alignment

2ndroute.jpg

Second alignment

3rdroute.jpg

Current alignment

The map above shows in bright red the original road alignment. It was of course designed for horse-drawn wagons and carts. It hugs the river bank rather than cut through the farm fields. The bridge was built to replace a ford, although we don’t know its exact location. The specific bridge site probably was chosen because of bedrock.

In the late 1940s the road was realigned, as shown with the bright red line above, to remove the sharp turn at each end of the bridge and make things easier for cars and trucks. After this realignment was constructed, the road right-of-way between the residence and the river was abandoned to the adjoining properties. The segment of the original road between the residence and the bridge now functions as a driveway.

When the new bridge was built exactly on the alignment of the original road on the south side of the river the new road alignment swept farther east to get a straight shot at the new bridge. The current access to the stone arch bridge, shown with a dashed line, follows part of the second alignment. The second alignment south of the river was abandoned to the adjoining property, but is still visible.

 

 
Disposition of right-of-way. When the new bridge was built, the question of what to do with the old right-of-way was undoubtedly dealt with in a most logical manner:
►The County still owned the stone arch bridge and was responsible for it, so at least the right-of-way north of the bridge or the one south of the bridge had to be kept in public ownership.
►There were no residences served by the right-of-way segment on the south side of the bridge.
►The residence on the north side needed to continue to have frontage on a public road. The obvious choice was to keep the right-of-way on the north side of the river and abandon the segment on the south side.
Change in use.

What this decision did not take into account was that use of the right-of-way on the north side of the bridge would change over time. It continues to function as the necessary road frontage for the residence, but now its primary function, in terms of traffic volume, is access for visitors coming to the bridge.

 

While the traffic to and from the residence continues as one would normally expect of a rural residence, the visitors to the bridge come in much greater numbers, reportedly as many as several vehicles at one time.

Reopen southern access?

Conflict between the bridge visitors and the residence on the north side would greatly diminish if vehicle access to the bridge were from the south. This would mean returning the second alignment on the south side to public ownership, improvement, and maintenance.

Funding.

Such an undertaking would be very likely to qualify for funding (at 80%) through the federal Transportation Enhancement program. 

Accomplished by:

This will necessarily be a collaborative effort between the County authorities and the adjacent property owners. Federal funds may reduce the financial impact of making the needed improvements, but a substantial local responsibility remains. In large part the success of this task depends on the support of the adjacent land owners.

Return to Access.