Mann said he has spoken with many residents of District 46 about the closing of the bridge.
"Residents in all four counties have made their thoughts known to me on this issue," Mann said. "In my opinion, community matters. From Saline City to Bowling Green, Cory to Spencer, Riley to Ellettsville and Terre Haute to Bloomington, citizens would like to see a representative work for their best interests."
Mann said he has met with many individuals who have been affected by the bridge closing including an apprentice electrician who drives between Terre Haute and Bloomington five days a week, a resident of Spencer who drives to and from work in Terre Haute five days a week and a Bowling Green businessman who has seen a dramatic cut in business profits.
"This is the biggest link between Vigo County and Monroe County," Mann said. "This is business, this is safety, this is schools, this is education. This is such a significant artery for communities here."
Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) recently announced the bridge, which closed July 31, would be repaired and opened by late October. However, Mann still had questions on whether the bridge would still need repairs after opening.
"(The Eel River Bridge) will be a priority of my representation (if elected)," Mann said. "If INDOT says we can refurbish it, then refurbish it. If INDOT says we need to build a new bridge around it, then that's what we do. Whatever INDOT recommends is what we'll go with, but it needs to be sooner than later."
Mann said he supported INDOT and their decisions.
"I believe INDOT has a long-range plan and refurbishing this would be a part of that plan. The question would be just when is that going to come about," he said. "I request that INDOT be given all of the support it needs to make a determination about the future of this bridge and all the bridges of District 46."
Mann said he felt many residents would be OK with having a stoplight on the bridge if the repairs can be made one lane at a time.
"INDOT may say that's not an option; I don't know," Mann said. "But I think the people are really advocating that we get this bridge up and right. Do it right the first time, which will actually save money in the long run because it won't have to have this emergency relief."
Mann said Indiana State University fans were not able to travel SR 46 to the football stadium on Indiana University's campus, forfeiting many community dollars. Mann was also concerned about state funds.
"We need to invest in our infrastructure and be the best stewards of taxpayer money that we can be," Mann said.
Commissioner President Charlie Brown was on hand to state his opinion, explaining how the county roads being used as detours are dangerous due to the increased traffic. He was also concerned about the increased traffic causing poor road conditions.
"It's an ongoing concern," Brown said. "It is a big deal. It's a dangerous switchback-type of road (River Road)."
Mann supported Brown's statements, and the two discussed area roads being used as detours by locals.
"I will be the biggest supporter this district has for the improvement of this historic structure," Mann said. "Having efficient bridges and roadways will be a top priority of my representation of the 65,000 citizens living in Clay, Monroe, Owen and Vigo counties."