Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

September 18, 2012

New bridge construction may start in ‘13

TAHLEQUAH — Cherokee County’s board of commissioners on Monday approved an agreement with Austin and Leslie Bennett on a right-of-way easement for a project that will replace and relocate Combs Bridge.

The existing Combs Bridge has been deemed structurally deficient, and plans are in the works for a new bridge to be erected about 2,000 feet to the west of its current location. District 1 Commissioner Doug Hubbard said the Bennetts have agreed to donate property easements for the new bridge in exchange for another section of property.

“The existing road that’s there now [East 690 Road], from the old bridge to [State Highway 10], would be given back to them,” said Hubbard.

The road connecting Combs Bridge to S.H. 10 will then be closed to public access, and the new bridge will be connected to East 690 Road on the east side of the river.

As part of the agreement, the Bennetts also requested the old bridge be removed after completion of the new project, but that abutments be left in place to help prevent erosion. Hubbard had previously said that would be the case.

“They also wanted to be assured there wouldn’t be a public access along their property,” said Hubbard.

The county has agreed not to use the right-of-way adjoining the Bennetts’ property for public access to the Illinois River.

The county will also provide private access from the new road built during the project to the Bennetts’ property, if the family provides written request for that access after the new bridge and road is completed.

That private access would consist of a gravel or dirt driveway across the Bennetts’ donated right-of-way to the boundary line of their property, including a galvanized culvert, if needed.

Construction of the new bridge in a new location is still in the planning phases, according to Hubbard, and could begin sometime next year. The project could take as long as a year and a half to finish once it begins.

The project is estimated at $2 million to $3 million.

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