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Funding Problems Have Bridge Replacement Project On Hold

By: Marie Luby Email
By: Marie Luby Email

One year ago we told you about the Billips Avenue bridge in the city of Cumberland.

It's now 58 years old and at one point started falling apart ... but funding problems have plans to replace it on hold.

The Billips Avenue bridge is technically closed ... But still very much open.

Shawna Browning, who grew up near the bridge, says, "Something needs to be done. This is our only way to and from our homes."

The bridge needed some emergency attention back in April after cement railings fell into the river below. Ed Cannon, who's lived here 25 years, was driving by as crews made temporary repairs.

He says, "They've surveyed it a half a dozen times. they say they don't have the money ... so I guess we'll have to wait until the bridge falls down before we get it fixed!"

U.S. Representative Hal Rogers helped secure almost two and a half million dollars for the replacement project, to be split between the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA. Those in his Washington office now say the money is tied up in quote "bureaucratic hang-ups."

Mayor Loretta Cornett says, "When you are at someone else's mercy ... you just have to wait."

Every time it rains, neighbors worry.

"Now we're all watching the river, making sure it doesn't get any higher. I've seen the water up to that bridge," says Browning.

Neighbors say they're thankful that emergency responders are still crossing the bridge when they need help.

Browning says, "Surely they sit and hesitate if they're not aware of the bridge. When you see 'bridge closed,' no one wants to cross."

And Shawna Browning worries one day, they won't.

Mayor Loretta Cornett says the new walk bridge nearby is almost finished, but there's no word on when the Army Corps of Engineers can start building a new two-lane driving bridge.


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