Road to historic bridge closing

The Bunker Mill Bridge south of Kalona, Iowa on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017.  The road in front of...
The Bunker Mill Bridge south of Kalona, Iowa on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. The road in front of the fence is the one the owner has requested Washington County close. (Dave Franzman/KCRG-TV9)(KCRG)
Published: Apr. 4, 2017 at 12:38 PM CDT
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Washington County supervisors have voted to close a road that leads to a historic bridge.

There was short discussion before the supervisors voted 3-2 to pass the resolution. The Bunker Mill Bridge is in Kalona over the English River. An arsonist burned it down in September of 2013. Bridge supporters spent the better part of three years rebuilding and trying to preserve the 130-year-old bridge.

"Why would you close the road? It doesn't benefit anyone but that land owner" said Scott Allen of Kalona.

That's what some residents said about a decision to close part of a road leading to the Bunker Mill Bridge.

"I was very disappointed and shocked. I think it was a very bad decision. They're elected officials but they are not following what the electorate wants" said Steve Maxon of Wellman.

Now cyclists, hikers, and the Amish community can't use the renovated bridge.

"It's got a lot of historic value and it goes through a very environmentally interesting area up there in the northern part of the county" said Maxon.

The chairman for the board of supervisors said closing the road south of the bridge will save taxpayers money

"Currently we would have to keep maintaining that road. Once we give it back to the property owners we no longer have to maintain that road" said Richard Young, the chairman of the Washington County Board of Supervisors.

One man with property near the bridge wanted part of Nutmeg Road closed because more people are trespassing and leaving trash. Young said it will keep troublemakers off private property.

"There's a lot of people that are trespass down there, ride their four wheelers, they dump garbage down there" said Young.

Maxon said what's most disappointing is that so much time and money to fix the bridge essentially went to waste.

"That's very frustrating. Very frustrating indeed because the bridge is stronger than ever. It's been fixed up so it'll hold more than it ever would have originally" said Maxon.

But the fighting is not over yet. Some residents have filed a lawsuit against a non-profit that has put a fence around the bridge. The county hasn't said when the road leading to the bridge will close.