(photo of the first car across the new bridge after the barricades were removed at the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony)
After almost 30 years of safety concerns, negotiations, co-ordination, and a year of construction, the 15th Street overhead bridge on Washington’s east side is now open to traffic. Washington’s Mayor, Joe Wellman, said the new bridge is the culmination of years of effort.
The original bridge was built around 1904 and over the years had been damaged to the point that its use was limited to only the lightest of vehicles, although it provided the most direct route to the hospital and major transportation arteries. Five years ago, under the leadership of out-going Executive Director Ron Arnold, the Daviess County Economic Development Corporation paid for a feasibility study for a new bridge. Armed with this study, city and county officials began negotiations with CSX. The Economic Development Foundation contributed $400,000 to the project and the railroad gave $200,000. City of Washington and Daviess County split the remaining $1.3 million to build the new bridge. County Commissioner President Nathan Gabhart said building the bridge was symbolic.
Just after the ceremony the first car traveled across the bridge, which has no weight restrictions for the first time in nearly 40 years.