Metal theft causing problems for Jefferson County bridge repair

JEFFERSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Bridge work south of Mt. Vernon has completely shut down route Route 37, and it could be closed longer than expected.

Authorities are now looking into a case of scrap-metal theft that has the local construction crew scrambling to find new parts to get their job done.

"It's certainly going to put a kink in our progress," said E.T. Simonds manager Laura Wilson.

Wilson says either late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, someone stole nine custom made steel plates. Each piece costs around $250, weighs 130 lbs. and Wilson says the pieces are necessary to finish the work.

It's not the cost of replacing the custom-made pieces that concerns Wilson; it's the costs E.T. Simonds could incur if they don't get the road back open.

"We are under contract with IDOT," said Wilson. "If we don't get the road open on time, then we're subject to fines. Pretty substantial fines, 1000's of dollars per day that we're not able to open the road."

E.T. Simonds agreed to complete the job start to finish within 20 days, but without those parts, the work can't be completed.

Wilson says if the job has to wait the usual four to five weeks for those parts to come in the crew will be temporarily out of work.

Jefferson County Sheriff Roger Mulch says whenever the price for scrap metal goes up you'll see these kinds of crimes. He says it's a sort of criminal supply and demand.

"Whatever they think they can turn the quickest, highest profit on, whatever's in demand, that's what they'll steal," Mulch said.

MT. Vernon Police are also investigating a scrap metal theft. Late last week, someone stole copper from the new Good Samaritan Hospital construction site.

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