City of Carthage prods railroad to fix Whee Bridge

The City of Carthage, Mo., is taking a more assertive approach with the Union Pacific railroad to shore up two bridges, including the historic “Whee” Bridge on Route 66, reported the Carthage Press.

City Administrator Tom Short said the recent closing of the nearby Sycamore Street bridge due to cracks in its supports prompted the city to send a letter to the railroad, urging it to bring that bridge and the Oak Street bridge, aka Whee Bridge, on Route 66 up to a “reliable standard.”

Ten days after the letter was mailed, Short said the railroad hadn’t responded. The newspaper said:

In its letter, the city said: “A review of our information, it appears that the railroad was required to install and maintain numerous crossings in the city as a part of the city granting the easement for the railroad right-of-way. Therefore, the city of Carthage is hereby notifying the railroad of these conditions and requiring the bridge be brought up to a reliable standard.” […]

The city has been talking to the railroad for more than six years about refurbishing the iconic Oak Street bridge, also known by other names as the “whee bridge” or “tickle-tummy bridge” because of its unique hump and its location on Route 66.

The city received state and county funds to refurbish the Whee Bridge, but the necessary work would have cost far more than the money that was available.

You’d think Union Pacific, which recorded record earnings in the fourth quarter and in all of 2012, could afford to cough up some money to help refurbish a beloved historic bridge on America’s most famous highway.

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