Isaac Austin who is a student at James River High School had trouble getting to school when Craig Creek was high and he could not ford the creek due to the closure of Brahma Bridge in Oriskany. He is speaking with Fincastle Supervisor Larry Ceola.
Russell Anderson has been unable to use a swinging bridge called the Brahma Bridge to his farm since April 1, 2009. On Tuesday, June 28, Debra Penley as spokeswoman for the Oriskany group, mentioned over a half dozen park and walk bridges over Craig Creek in Oriskany that VDOT has held in peril for two years while a study has been performed by VDOT.
Looking back to 2009, VDOT claimed they took responsibility in the 1930s and really were not in the swinging bridge business, so they could not do it anymore which mean they would not fix the Brahma Bridge, a swinging bridge, to the Anderson farm.
For the residents who park on one side of the creek and walk ( thus park and walk) to homes on the other side it is instrumental to keep the swinging bridges open. When the water is high in the creek, they are unable to ford the creek to get home. There are approximately 80 or so people in the small community, but they are bound and determined to live the good life in Oriskany and that includes swinging bridges.
Penley said she and the community were at the board of the supervisors to gain support. “VDOT has said they will not repair any bridges until their study is complete,” said Jerry Burgess, County Administrator.
Anderson said, “The 15 year old can’t get out to school, the cemetery cannot be visited and funerals cannot be conducted if the water is high.”
Everrett Harris a local resident said the bridge can be fixed for $2,000.
The supervisors maintained support to get the bridge fixed, but as Billy Martin said, ” We will support you on this matter and get in touch with Richard Caywood from the Salem District.”
Burgess recommended the board convey their support of the Oriskany bridge upkeep and repair to VDOT in writing. Terry Austin of the Buchanan District asked about listing the people who are in the area as well to send with the written notification.
Isaac Austin is a rising sophomore at James River High School. He lives on the farm where the Brahma Bridge is located. He missed 20 days of school this year due to the inability to cross the creek either by ford or swinging bridge. He lives at the home of Russell Anderson. “It didn’t really affect my grades because I had make up worksheets and stuff, but it isn’t the same thing as being there to hear it.”
Some of the residents are older and health concerns are part of their reasoning about the bridges. Anderson as a farmer needs the bridge to get easily from his home to his farmland on the other side. If he cannot get across the ford, he can at least walk across to his car and equipment parked on the other side. Anderson and his brother have had to man a boat in high fast water and pull across to the other side.
So for what ever reason that a resident may list, the swinging bridge in a very remote community like Oriskany is an integral part of being able to live there.