Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A New Bridge

The Marietta Register, September 18, 1873

 Editor Register:

I find a good many of our people concur with me in the opinion that it is premature and unfortunate to submit the building of a bridge across the Muskingum to a vote at this fall election, and among others that might be given for the following reasons:

First.  It remains to be demonstrated whether there will be any necessity for a New Bridge.  The M. & C. R. R. Co. is now constructing, and, unless counteracted by this movement, will, in a few weeks more, have a new bridge completed, constructed not only for their own use, but also with special reference to its use by the public.  Of course tolls will have to be paid as heretofore, unless after trying it a sufficient time, our Commissioners should make it free to the public, by paying the toll yearly in a lump, in other words, rent the use of the bridge for the public travel, and thus relieve the Railway Company from the annoyance and expense of collecting toll, and give the people a free bridge at a cost of certainly not over four per cent of the interest on a new bridge, and also exempt us from the risk of ownership, expense of repairs, and services of men day and night to attend the draw of a new bridge.

A second reason is that with the establishment of a depot in Marietta, the crossing of teams which at present makes so large a show, will be very small, and, for foot-travel, the Railroad Bridge will unquestionably be as good as any that can be made, and as the Railroad men, who, of all others, have perhaps the most experience in bridge matters, are willing to invest their money in finishing this bridge for the public use, it would seem to be at least good presumptive evidence that their plan will do what they propose, to-wit, furnish the public a safe and commodious bridge.

Third, if the people now vote in favor a new bridge, it is not at all likely the Railway Company will carry out their plan and build a bridge to compete with a free bridge.  They will drop the finishing of this bridge for the public use, like a hot potato, and leave us to ferry privileges for a couple of years longer.  That there may be some drawbacks attending the use of the same bridge, for different purposes, is perhaps to be expected, but the Railroad bridge, by its superior strength, will undoubtedly furnish a quicker mode of transit.  It would seem that on a bridge capable of bearing railway trains, there will be no need of signs threatening us with ten dollars fine for driving faster than a walk, so that if we sometimes have to surrender the bridge to the trains, we may be fully compensated for it by making better time when it belongs to us.  I therefore hope the proposition may be voted down, at the coming election.



B. communicates an article in this paper, in which he opposes the building of a public bridge across the Muskingum.  He puts forth all we have heard against it, but it does not answer the question for the people.  No one doubts our ability to get along with a toll bridge (although a good many do doubt getting along comfortably with a railroad toll bridge), but the people have a right to own a bridge of their own.  Granting some sections of the county will not use it (and what bridge now built by the county accommodates more than a small portion of it), it is due the part west of the river that they have a bridge.  Marietta and the section west of the river pay over two thirds of all the tax, bridge and otherwise, that is paid.  But, says B., the Railroad bridge will answer, let us try it.  What an idea!  If the Railroad bridge was to be double, like the old one, and covered, we might get along with it.  But when the farmers learn that it is to be an open floor, perhaps 20 feet wide, with the railroad iron running through the center, and that by paying toll they can wait at one end, until the trains are not needing it, and then cross, what will they give for it?  Nothing at all.  Teams not familiar with the cars will be annoyed continually; and if not, why should the whole county, for 25,000 people are interested in this bridge, pay tribute to a railroad corporation, or any other?  Are not the people able to run their own bridge?

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