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Orange Co. Commissioners Say It Will Cost More Than $1 Million To Repair Historic Bridge
Updated January 7, 2016 7:27 AM | Filed under: Accident
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paoli bridge.jpg

(PAOLI) - Orange County Commissioners said Wednesday it will cost more than $1 million to repair the historic iron bridge in Paoli that was damaged Christmas Day when a semi caused the bridge to collapse.

Now county officials are trying to figure out how to reopen it.

Don Brewer, president of Orange County Commissioners, says they are waiting to hear from the insurance company on what they are willing to pay. He added that the federal highway should pay the amount insurance won't cover.

Officials say the bridge will have to be disassembled, removed from the site and new pieces will have to be fabricated to repair the bridge. It will then be reassembled and then disassembled again and brought back to the site and put back up. It will take a year to complete the project.

Brewer says they could build a new bridge to replace the old one for about half the cost but many community members want to repair the historic bridge built in 1880, back to its original condition.

The driver of the semi, 23-year-old Mary Lambright of Fredericksburg, is facing criminal charges and is scheduled to appear in court on January 25.

Police Police Chief Randy Sanders says Lambright was an inexperienced driver and had just left the Amish order about a year ago. She and her passenger, her 17-year-old female cousin, were not injured during the incident.

Lambright was arrested on a charge of reckless operation of a tractor-trailer, but was not taken to jail, but rather cited into court. She was also cited for disregarding a traffic control device, the signage on the bridge and traveling with an overweight load on a posted bridge.

Sanders says Lambright, an independent driver, was hauling more than 43,000 pounds of bottled water in a leased truck from Penske for Louisville Logistics. Police say she couldn't comprehend how much six tons was - the weight limit posted on the bridge. The tractor-trailer and load weighted more than 30 tons.

According to police, Lambright was traveling on U.S. 150 East and was attempting to make a delivery at Walmart when she failed to turn north onto State Road 37. In an attempt to head north toward the store she turned north on South Gospel Street and then attempted to turn west onto Oak Street, but was unable to.

Lambright told police that she knew there was a parking lot north of South Gospel Street and thought she could turn the truck around in the lot and again make her way back to State Road 37. But there was equipment parked in the lot and she couldn't get turned around.

Lambright says she was uncomfortable backing up the semi and didn't think to call police or another driver for assistance so she attempted to cross the iron bridge.

Police say that Lambright was traveling more than 30 miles per hour in order to get the vehicle stuck that far on the bridge.

Once she started onto the bridge, the trailer got stuck, ripping about a third of the trailer top off. Then the weight of the vehicle made the bridge begin to collapse, pushing both sides of the bridge inward.

A witnesses, who saw the bridge begin collapsing, called police at 12:12 p.m.

Wilcox Wrecker Service from Salem brought two wreckers to remove the semi from the collapsed bridge. It took them until after 9 p.m. to remove the tractor-trailer.

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