There was a national news story a few years back that noted that Jay Leno had set a record, getting a speeding ticket with the oldest car on record on a California freeway.
Later, Leno acknowledged in a car collector magazine that he had, indeed, been stopped for driving 75 mph in his 1912 Stanley,
Local car expert, and Stanley steam car owner, Dick Friedeman, later remarked that it wasn’t surprising you could get that model of Stanley up to 75 mph, but that you would dare to do so, considering the braking system of those cars.
Older is often great, it’s often unique and beautiful.
But older isn’t always safer.
And that is the point that Barton County Commissioners have to face in connection with the county’s stone bridges.
Most of the eight bridges can continue to do good service and will be able to be kept in good condition and even be of interest to some tourists.
But the one that is currently under discussion for replacement is another story.
It’s carrying too much heavy, commercial traffic for it to be a good idea to keep trying to have it carry daily traffic.
It is not our only such bridge. There is another, virtually identical, just a couple of miles away.
Barton County will still have seven historic WPA Project bridges for people to see.
And the historic importance of that project in this county has been laudably researched, thanks in part to the county’s recent efforts.
What is needed on this stretch of road, however, is the best and safest bridge that can carry the agriculture and oil field traffic in that part of the northern edge of the county.
Safety has to be the first consideration and longevity is important too.
It’s great that county officials have recognized the historic importance of these bridges, and it will be great to keep the majority of them in daily use, since they carry less traffic.
But commercial traffic needs the safety that a new bridge will afford.
— Chuck Smith