Rain washes out bridge

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- About a dozen families in Alachua County are dealing with a very precarious daily commute after a wooden bridge to their homes washed out this past summer.

FOX 35 caught up with mom Cecile Harrell in the middle of her precarious routine she's been doing since August when excessive rain washed out what used to be a wooden bridge that led to a neighborhood off NE 96th Avenue in Alachua County.

Back and forth between her car and a wagon, getting ready to load up the family's most precious cargo:  3-year-old Ava and 5-year-old Zoey.

"We just walk stuff across the bridge, put it in the wagon, then walk home.  Careful," Harrell said.  That's what she tells her young daughters as they walk in front of her on the makeshift cement planks that now cross the creek bed.

It's a delicate dance.  Once they make it across safely, Dad turns off the car lights and begins the trek himself.
Harrell says, "We're not millionaires living on a private road with a gate at the end.  It's a dirt road everybody kind of maintains, filling in potholes.  But a $200,000 bridge is just kind of out of our reach and not being able to find any help with that is a little unbelievable."

Deputy County Manager Jim Harriott explained the problem is the road and bridge are privately owned.

You can't use tax money if it's not a public purpose.

But he says, the county commission is considering the argument that making it feasible for emergency vehicles to get back to the neighborhood  is a public purpose.

They are considering a special tax assessment, which some folks tell me they are in favor of.

But others say it would be a lot.

Resident Lisa Franklin says, "That scares me a little bit right now."

John Holt has a heart condition and says, "I can't go down in the hole, I'm afraid of falling more than anything.

The county commission is still looking to find a way to help and will meet again in February.

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