PARIS — Responding to residents’ concerns, Oxford County commissioners decided this week to reopen a bridge on the Old West Bethel Road in Albany Township that they voted to close last month.

The 21-foot bridge, which is in severe disrepair, crosses the Crooked River about two-tenths of a mile northwest of Route 5 near Songo Pond. 

A handful of residents attended Monday’s meeting to voice their concern about the bridge closing as well as the county’s plan to discontinue maintenance on the stretch of road between the bridge and Route 5.

According to County Administrator Scott Cole, the main complaint voiced by residents is that regular flooding in the area often shuts down Patte Brook Road, which intersects with Old West Bethel Road.

Residents are concerned that closing off the bridge permanently could prevent them from using the Old West Bethel Road as alternative access to Route 5, potentially isolating them in the event of serious flooding.

The complaints delivered in person Monday were in addition to others made by phone calls made to commissioners in advance of the meeting, Cole said.


At the commission meet last month, Cole said the undercarriage of the bridge is unsafe for vehicles and the road leading to it is in an advanced state of disrepair.

A “modified crane mat” made out of heavy timber beams will be installed as a temporary measure to make travel over the bridge safe, Cole said. The cost to manufacture, transport and install the structure is between $5,000 and $7,000.

The temporary structure is expected to be installed sometime next week.  

“It’s not ideal, there’s still some concerns with guardrails and the approaches,” Cole said, “but the commissioners feel that their order was to open the bridge and minimize the burden on the public short of closing it.”

Poorly-engineered ditching and culverts create most of the flooding problems in the area, Cole said. Commissioners intend to budget next year to repair the bridge, fix the ditches and culverts and reconstruct the road.

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