Bono Bridge Repairs - Who's Responsible?

Bono bridge has been a local landmark for over one hundred years, but just how safe is the bridge? And who's responsible for repairs? Residents ask the County to fix it, but the County says it's not up to them.

Loose, creaky boards are cause for fear among some residents, like Ralph Cox, who say the bridge is unsafe.

"It's a disgrace to Craighead County that bridge is over there."

Ralph Cox said he's been in contact with the County trying to get something done about the Bono bridge for years now. But Judge Dale Haas says although the bridge is on a county road, it's not up to the county to fix it.

"That bridge belongs to BNSF railroad. We are allowed to travel that bridge as a courtesy of the railroad. It's not a county bridge, if it was we would be inclined to fix the bridge.  The county's not allowed to work on the bridge without permission from the railroad because it is on their right away."

Judge Haas says the county has submitted the bridge for state funding, but the funding just isn't there.  If the railroad were to fund a new bridge and approve the county to build it, Judge Haas says they still couldn't do it.

"If we was to build a bridge and that thing collapsed on a train carrying chemicals or something and we'd put the whole community at risk, and we don't have that expertise or the ability to design to build something to go over something as hazardous as a railroad track."

But as unsafe as people think it is, they are still using it because it's convenient ...convenience or safety, residents say people use this bridge all the time.

"All of us on this side have to cross the bridge. Usually for a funeral or church."

Judge Haas says, they don't have to use the bridge.

"It is naturally a convenience to have that crossing right there, but it does not have to be there for the people who live there to commute back and forth to the city or county. We don't want to see it taken out of service, we want to see it replaced with a new concrete bridge, if the funding is available."

But finding the funding is still the problem.

We talked to Bruce Chinn with BNSF Railroads and he stated, "The Department of Transportation has conducted a bridge inspection on the Bono bridge. From that they have concluded the rating the bridge received meets state criteria for state funding. This would pay 80% and the design for a new bridge."

Where the remaining 20% would come from is still in the works.