De-annexing the Elmore Town Bridge might be the solution to getting it fixed.
Baxter Mayor John Martin said de-annexing the 49-year-old bridge would allow Putnam County to make repairs.
“If we de-annex this part near the bridge, the county takes it back over. You’re going to get the $206,000 in the bridge fund right now, plus the $65,000 in July,” Martin said. “I think the county can probably build a bridge a lot cheaper than us waiting years and years to meet TDOT’s specs.”
Martin explained Monday that TDOT shot down the city’s plan to fix the bridge, and the agency’s plan requires more funding than what the state bridge fund provides.
Putnam County Road Supervisor Randy Jones said the county could make temporary repairs with the state bridge funding until a permanent fix could be made.
“We can go in there right now and put some pipe in and work around the bridge and get it to where the school buses can go in and out,” Jones said. “That will give us a little time to get some of our engineering done.”
Baxter has already submitted a request to put the bridge on TDOT’s high priority status. If approved, the state would fund 100-percent of the project.
The bridge has posed a challenge for many residents over the years. A current weight limit prevents school buses from picking up 17 students living in the area.
The Putnam County Fiscal Review Committee voted Monday to re-accept the Elmore Town Bridge if Baxter moves forward with de-annexation. Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter said the county commission would have to vote to re-accept the bridge when Baxter de-annexes.
The full county commission will consider approving the committee’s recommendation next week.
Baxter will hold a special-called meeting later this week to vote on de-annexing the bridge.