It's an open-or-shut case, but it may not be that simple to resolve.
Douglas County commissioners have voted to shut down the Kansas River bridge at Lecompton for planned repairs in 2007.
But a majority of Jefferson County commissioners, having heard the clamor from constituents, apparently want to keep a lane open during the rebuilding project.
The bridge spans the two counties, so it remains uncertain how the difference will be worked out.
Douglas County has agreed to foot the lion's share of the reconstruction expense. Some think that assures Douglas County will get its way. But Jefferson County officials aren't so certain financial might will make right.
"If this was stockholders, and we've got 11 percent of the vote and they have 80, then I guess they win," Jefferson County Commissioner Lynn Luck said. But "I'll leave that up to others to decide. I will vote to keep it open."
Jefferson County commissioners, unlike their Douglas County counterparts, have not formally voted on the bridge issue. But all indications are that they will vote to keep the bridge open when they meet Monday.
At least two of the three Jefferson County commissioners - David Christy and Luck - say they want the bridge to remain open. Commissioner Francis Grollmes said he didn't think he was supposed to say how he would vote in advance of the Monday meeting.
"It's interesting how we all sit there and listen to the same information and then we come up with different ways of doing it," Luck said, referring to the Wednesday night meeting when Douglas County commissioners voted for closing the bridge.
About 60 residents from the Lecompton and Perry areas attended Wednesday's meeting. Several spoke about the hardships they would face if the bridge was closed for four months during repairs. Those hardships included effects on business, social activity and safety.
Douglas County commissioners Bob Johnson and Charles Jones voted to close the bridge; Jere McElhaney, who represents the Lecompton area, voted to keep it open. Johnson and Jones said they thought a year's time to plan for the closing would help resolve some residents' concerns.
They also noted that even if the bridge is kept open to one lane, there still would be 50 to 60 days when the bridge must be closed for the pouring of concrete and other work. Those closings would come with short notice and could lead to safety problems and hardships of their own, they said.
If the two commissions disagree, they will probably have to continue meeting to discuss the issues, all parties said. The commissions have a documented agreement that states the cost of the bridge will be paid on a formula based on each county's respective total property valuation. That means Douglas County would pay an estimated 89 percent and Jefferson County 11 percent.
But the document also said the cost is to be determined in the future, said Steve Montgomery, the Jefferson County counselor. And if the counties are at loggerheads on the open-or-shut issue, which has direct bearing on the project's cost, then the cost-sharing plan also could be scotched.
"I would think that if the parties can't agree on a price, then we probably don't have an agreement," Montgomery said. "That's the real kicker."
Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug said the two counties would have to talk out their differences.
"They have been a very good county to work with and they have kind of acknowledged that we are kind of the lead county based on the 89 percent," Weinaug said.
If the bridge is closed, the project will take 140 days to complete at a cost of more than $3.3 million. If one lane is left open, the project will take 320 days at a cost of more than $4.07 million.
Jefferson County commissioners will meet to vote on the question at 9 a.m. Monday in the courthouse at Oskaloosa.