Pulled back from the brink: 1880 Paoli bridge

This was the scene in Paoli, the seat of justice in Orange County, Indiana, on Christmas Day in 2015.

Photo credit: French Lick Fire Dept.

I thought this beautiful bridge, built in 1880, was a goner. But the people of Paoli wouldn’t have it — they saw to it that the bridge was rescued. The trucking company (or probably its insurance company) paid the entire $700,000 bill. Margaret and I drove through Paoli in July and stopped to photograph it. This photo was taken from about the same place as the photo above.

Gospel Street Bridge, Paoli, IN

Height-limit bars were installed several feet before the bridge on both ends. Now a too-large vehicle will hit these bars rather than the bridge. It’s a nice touch that they are in a similar style as the bridge.

Gospel Street Bridge, Paoli, IN

Nikon Df, 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-G Nikkor

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22 responses to “Pulled back from the brink: 1880 Paoli bridge”

  1. J P Avatar

    That would have been a real eye opener of a property damage claim. There must have been solid evidence that the pre-damage value of the bridge was well over $700k, or else there would have been more of a fight with the insurer.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wonder how a bridge’s value is determined! That’s a really good perspective.

  2. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Glad they put in the height bars as a prelim to hitting the bridge. My Dad, spending a lifetime in the insurance biz, saw this happening all the time. He was not a defender of the average intelligence of truck drivers!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      In this case, the driver was brand new to it. I have a memory that she was recently ex-Amish too. All sorts of stuff going on there.

    2. tbm3fan Avatar

      The average intelligence of your non-truck driver is not always that much better. Yesterday, could be any day, I took a different exit to reach home since the normal one was just finishing road work. This exit stops at a major 3 lane road each direction. In California you can make a right turn on a red light unless posted and this right turn is posted…NO… by three large signs. Two directly across from you and one next to you. So what did the pickup do? Sounds like why did the chicken cross the road?

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        TBM3FAN….yep, no one pays attention. I actually live across the street from a home for the blind, hence ALL the surrounding corners have “no turn on red” postings, as you may ‘clock’ a blind person who’s listening for the traffic in front of them, or to the side of them. Every single red light, all day long, someone turns right on red. The cops could sit out here all day long and hand out tickets, and they would go on and still do it in front of the cops anyway. “I didn’t see the sign!”

        1. tbm3fan Avatar

          Their problems isn’t that they can’t see with their eyes, since as an eye doctor I could help them, their problem is in their head which no one can help.

  3. brandib1977 Avatar

    This warms my heart and awakens my hope for humanity in this foggy September morning. Communities that rally around their history are the best.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Paoli doesn’t have much, but they have this bridge and a gorgeous county courthouse just up the street.

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Often, it’s the communities that have the least that work the hardest to keep it. Good for them!! And I’m glad for the new safety measures too!

  4. Ben Cotton Avatar

    Wow, I guess I haven’t been through that part of Paoli since the accident. The bridge looks beautiful. I’m glad the locals fought to keep it.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Me too. It would have been a crying shame to lose it.

  5. Kodachromeguy Avatar

    I love that first photograph. The sign clearly show No Trucks, and there is a massive truck on the crushed structure.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, whoever took that photo had a great sense of irony.

  6. -N- Avatar

    The highways in California have posted height limits on the overpasses and local bridges, but they are not visible until you are right up on them. I don’t know if there are signals or maps showing height limitations, but I do remember one truck rammed into one in my town. The road above was damaged, multiple cars crashed into the back of the truck, and the truck itself was a bit of a mess. Luckily no one died, and the overpass was fixed fairly quickly. Same with the freeway. I hope that this bridge won’t suffer that fate again!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      We’re generally better about that in Indiana. When you turn down a road with a weight-limit or height-limit bridge ahead, there’s usually a sign right as you turn on. Still doesn’t prevent bridges from being destroyed, but it probably cuts down on it.

  7. Michael Avatar

    The limit bars look pretty high for wanting to enforce “no trucks”. I assumed it was the grossly exceeded weight limit (6T) that did it in rather than hitting the top.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That could just be the perspective of my photograph. On the ground, to me the limit bars looked to be about as tall as the bridge’s top members. I think I remember that the weight of the truck was a problem indeed, but it wasn’t until the trailer hit the top members that the bridge buckled.

  8. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    I believe, that if you consider yourself a professional trucker, there is an app called SmartTruckRoute that shows all bridge and underpass heights, and you may even be able to filter your route based on those. I also believe someone told me a while back, that there are trucker specific maps that also show all bridge and underpass heights.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I didn’t know about that! That’s a useful service to be sure.

  9. Jane Safford Herr Avatar
    Jane Safford Herr

    I about cried when I saw pictures of that truck on the bridge. I cheered when I saw it rehabbed, better than ever!!!!!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It was infuriating when this happened. I thought for sure this bridge was done for. It’s amazing what they can do to restore a badly damaged bridge!

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