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Officials Unsure If Historic Paoli Bridge Can Be Repaired

A damaged iron bridge behind caution tape.

County officials say it’s unclear whether a historic iron bridge in Paoli can be saved after a truck driver ignored weight limit signs and drove over the bridge, causing it to collapse on Christmas Day.

The bridge on Paoli’s South Gospel Street has been here longer than most of its residents.

The Cleveland Bridge and Iron Company built it in 1880 and the county hoped to preserve the centuries-old structure by putting up signs prohibiting semi traffic or any vehicles over six tons.

Police say that didn’t stop 23-year-old Mary Lambright from driving a semi carrying 43,000 pounds of water over the bridge, causing it to collapse.

Paoli residents, including Fred Sullivan, are hoping the damage can be repaired.

"It’s a historical landmark in this community," Sullivan says. "It’s like that courthouse. It’s just as important to this community as what the courthouse is."

Orange County Commissioner Don Crockett says it’s unclear how much repairs could cost – or if the structure is even salvageable.

"We’ve got some engineers coming next week to look at it and determine what we can do and what we can’t do."

Crockett says the bridge has been hit in the past, but those accidents only caused minor damage.

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