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Alachua County Analyzing Costs On Downed Bridge

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Alachua County is moving forward with deciding whether it will repair the fallen Northeast 96th Avenue bridge that’s been down since August 2015.

The bridge, which spans a creek near Waldo Road, provides access to 13 or so occupied houses, resident Diana Lancaster said, and those affected have had to park their cars on the other side, cross the collapsed bridge and the creek, and walk.

Lancaster said the bridge is a safety hazard, noting how the crossing has resulted in injuries for her daughter (twisted ankle) and sister-in-law (falling and scraping her face).

But the issue extends beyond just the bridge, according to James Link, storm water engineer with Alachua County Public Works, because there are two other bridges nearby that are also in need of repairs. One is on Northeast 100th Avenue, he said, adding that he wasn’t immediately sure of the other’s location.

Those two aren’t unusable, but the 100th Avenue one appeared in slight disrepair Thursday.

Link was out taking measurements Thursday of the three bridges something he indicated doesn’t necessarily mean the county will fund the repairs but is just for helping in determining overall costs.

Neither Link nor the residents disclosed possible costs.

No decisions have been made yet regarding how repairs for the 96th Avenue bridge specifically will move forward. But Alachua County is evaluating the implementation of a special-assessment district tax, which would tax the residents affected by the bridge being out.

Affected residents have signed a petition to get the bridge fixed, Lancaster said.

“All our neighbors agreed that if [the county] would fix the bridge and assess our taxes to pay for it, that we were all willing to do that,” she said.

Lancaster said she is having a hard time dealing with the bridge.

“We kind of plan all of our trips to get as much done in one trip as we can so we don’t have to go in and out [from our home] because you can’t just hop in the car outside the door and head out,” she said.

County commissioners have drawn up a policy that will eventually outline the approximate costs and if they can help with the bridge, according to another Alachua County resident, Sandra Griffis, a bus driver.

“I wish the county would please help us,” she said. “Walking in the rain is no fun early in the morning, and I leave out of here at 5 o’clock in the morning.”

About Claire Campbell

Claire is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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