HARRISBURG — Significant structural decay in a River Road Bridge in the town of Harrisburg led Lewis County to close it immediately pending evaluation by an engineer.

County Highway Superintendent Timothy Hunt said that in the process of working on the other of the bridges over Kimberly Creek known as the “Twin Sisters,” the contractor went to the bridge to “touch up the concrete,” but instead discovered the concrete was crumbling where it meets the steel support structure.

“Basically, the whole foundation is crumbling,” Mr. Hunt said. “We made the decision to close the bridge at about 3:30 (p.m. Tuesday) ... We put up signs and barricades. We actually put up sand piles in front of the bridge because we didn’t want people throwing the barricades on the side of the road thinking that we don’t really mean it and using the bridge anyway. We’re that concerned about it.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Hunt and his department will map out an official detour.

River Road begins in Copenhagen as a paved road but turns into a dirt road before the bridges in Harrisburg.

Recently, the town has been working to pave the rest of the road, so while there is usually little traffic on the route, there has been more truck traffic recently.

If experts determine that there is immediate need to replace the bridge, Mr. Hunt said he would have to work with legislators, find grants or work with the state Department of Transportation to find funding options, although first they will try to find a temporary fix that will keep people safe and the bridge open while funding can be found.

“Like in (Florida) with that high-rise collapsing ... I don’t want to be the guy that doesn’t make the right decision,” Mr. Hunt said. “It’s a terrible tragedy and I think when it comes to things like this, you don’t take that chance.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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