Money Watchers: Brightman Street Bridge to remain open

The Brightman Street Bridge is living history.

The drawbridge that connects Fall River and Somerset is more than 100 years old.

But it's not much good for modern transportation, especially when one of its shafts cracks, and raising and lowering the bridge becomes a problem.

It would be torn down at an estimated cost of $6 million, except for one thing.

The bridge was a key tool in the fight against brining a liquefied natural gas terminal to Fall River because it made it difficult to navigate tankers to the site. Lawmakers put the bridge into a federal law, protecting it.

So it can't be taken down and no one uses it.

However, four people are still paid to operate it. It's required to be manned 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

And even though there's nothing to do right now, the state is paying a total of $156,227 a year to four people to watch it.

The bridge is considered structurally unsound.

And now that its leaves don't work, it's locked in the upright position to allow the few sailboats that cruise up the Taunton River to pass.

And the rest of us to see an antique bridge that you can't use to cross the river.