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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Bridging the gap

The city and county may end up in court over who has the obligation to maintain bridges inside city limits. City Attorney Carol Taylor says it's the county, and state law says so. The county says it ended the obligation when it abolished the cumulative bridge fund. Judt reading the state law should help us decide who is right, right? Well . . .

IC 8-16-3-1says that in those counties in which a cumulative bridge fund has been established, "the county executive is responsible for providing funds for all bridges," including those in municipalities, within the counntis except those bridges on the state highway system." That's all. It doesn't say the county has to maintain the bridge fund forever. It doesn't say whose obligation the bridges become if the bridge fund is eliminated. In this case, state law seems to be a lawsuit waiting to happen.

The county's preferred option, rejected by the city, is for a wheel tax increase, which requires County Council approval. But the money would go to the city, and before the county approves the increase, it wants the City Council to promise to give the money to the county for bridge maintenance and repair. Anybody notice a leadership gap here? We all know the bridges have to be maintained and repaired -- and we need Peter and Paul to stop worrying about getting robbed and start working together.

For what it's worth, I think the county has the greater obligation to figure this out. It was the one that stupidly ended the cumulative bridge fund, and if this goes to court, it will have to explain being the only county in the state (so far) to abandon what has been traditionally seen as a county obligation.


Harl Delos
Fri, 06/27/2008 - 3:17pm

Explain it to the judge? Sure.

"We have decided that bridges are evil, judge. They are not just expensive to maintain, but when they collapse, a lot of people die. It's not necessary for bridges to be poorly maintained for them to collapse.

"When the earthquake in California hit, the bridges on I-5 collapsed, with great loss of life, and they had passed all inspections. When the interstate bridge up in Minnesota collapsed, to great loss of life, it had passed all inspections.

"Even that culvert east of Antwerp had passed all inspections, and multiple people died when it collapsed.

"The New Madrid fault is overdue for another earthquake, and the danger of terrorist attack cannot be estimated. Consequently, we have decided to eliminate all bridges in the urban area of the county, where the potential for loss of life is greatest.

"And without any bridges to maintain, we don't figure we need any cumulative bridge fund. We're putting up barracades on all the bridges in the city as I speak, your honor, closing them to all but foot traffic.

"The rivers in Allen County are slow and flat, and we recommend people buy Conestoga wagons, and teams of horses, so that they can ford the rivers as necessary."

Your turn, Mayor.