The Camden County Historical Society will officially be moving forward with an attempt to purchase the rights to Green’s Mill bridge — also known as the J Road Bridge — without the aid of the Camden County Commission (unless through private means).

 The Camden County Historical Society will officially be moving forward with an attempt to purchase the rights to Green’s Mill bridge — also known as the J Road Bridge — without the aid of the Camden County Commission (unless through private means). On June 4 at 5 p.m. at the Camdenton Public Library, they will be holding a public forum aimed at gathering community members to sign up for various tasks surrounding fundraising efforts.

The Missouri Department of Transportation previously announced plans to demolish Green’s Mill Bridge if no party came forward to take over repair and ownership costs as it planned on building a new bridge for State Route J connecting Macks Creek and Climax Springs areas of Camden County. The bridge, found between Green Mill Campground and Little Niangua Campground, is one of only four self-anchored suspension bridges in the entire country and the final still standing. A new bridge is being constructed just 75 feet from the current location, aims to be a roadway with modern construction for easier access.

Demolition costs for the bridge were estimated in March at $180,000. If a party comes forward to claim ownership and responsibility for the existing bridge, 80 percent of federal funds that would have gone to demolition would instead be given to the new owner. At the projected cost of $180,000, 80 percent would come to a total of $144,000.

To completely rehabilitate the bridge to be more visitor-friendly in the future with ideas such as bike paths and walkways, the costs were estimated at $400,000. However, definite plans for bridge maintenance are still to be discussed by the Historic Society at this time.

Lonetta Bartell, one of the leading members on the project, says many of the costs associated with the purchase come from liability charges. She says the goal of the forum is to make people fully aware of the costs going into the purchase and how they would be able to raise the funds. The group has until Spring 2019 to either raise the funds or back out of the process.

After compiling a list of volunteers, Bartell says they will need to create a board of directors to start organizing the efforts. She says they will be taking part in activities such as tabling, going door-to-door with information, and creating general fundraising events.

“Our biggest goal is to get feet on the ground and to start making headway,” Bartell said.

Bartell says they chose to fundraise without the help of the commission without any specific reason in mind. She says that sometimes, having too many people involved in the project can make moving forward difficult. She hopes to get other local representation, such as fishing tournaments or local organizations, to sponsor the effort to help spread the word.

She says the to the local eye, the Green’s Mill bridge is an important part of the surrounding history. By making this issue aware to the members of the community with ties to the bridge, she believes the group will be able to truly showcase the importance of this purchase.