Building new bridges

from the archives of The News-Sentinel

In the picture's background can be seen the original iron bridge across the St. Mary's River. No one seems to be able to say when the original span was built, but by the 1920s it became obvious it would have to be replaced.
If most Rudisill-neighborhood homeowners could have their way, the scene in this picture would soon be repeated.

There's no Hall's Restaurant or Quimby Village shopping center in the background to give it away, but the ``new'' bridge under construction in this 1930 photo is actually the same Bluffton Road bridge which is now slated for replacement.

(Editor's note, January 1997: But, of course, it was not replaced.)

The county wants the new bridge built at the west end of Rudisill Boulevard. County officials claim the relocation would improve traffic flow. Others are calling for the present bridge's repairs. Some Rudisill area residents, though, want the county to do exactly what it did when the original Bluffton Road bridge finally gave out: just build a new bridge next door.

Work began on a new bridge just to the south, and the old bridge remained open until the replacement span opened. The old bridge was soon torn down, leaving just a street fragment and a few supports to testify to its existence.

Although the Bluffton Road, Oakdale, Broadway intersection is today one of the city's most confusing, county officials say it would be even more congested if a new bridge is built where the original once stood. While the existing bridge intersects Oakdale, the old bridge dead-ended on Broadway.

City street engineer Carl O'Neal said that arrangement might have worked when the bridge carried horses and buggies and light amounts of car traffic, but it won't work now. He said 26,000 cars use the Bluffton Road bridge daily.

Despite the county's best efforts, homeowners and others continue to fight the Rudisill bridge plan. This picture proves a next-door bridge happened once - and they're still hoping lightning strikes twice.

--Oct. 10, 1981

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