Matthew Renda

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December 10, 2013
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Nevada County supervisors' agenda: Bridgeport bridge to reopen?

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors is expected to voice support for the local effort to open the Bridgeport covered bridge during its regular meeting slated for today.

The board will craft a letter addressed to the California state Parks Department for the second time in as many months.

Last month, the board sent a letter to the parks department urging leaders to complete the underground adit (mining tunnel) tour project at Empire Mine State Historical Park, to no avail.

The board will look to achieve better success with its latest effort as it attempts to convince state officials to allocate money to restore the iconic covered bridge that spans the South Yuba River at the Bridgeport crossing.

Built in 1862 by aspiring entrepreneur David Wood, the bridge is a vital remnant of local history steeped in the mid-19th century Gold Rush that led to the formation of California and brought about the vast migration of pioneers from the east to the American West.

“The covered bridge must be restored and re-opened to foot traffic as soon as possible,” said Supervisor Hank Weston, whose district includes Bridgeport. “Walking across that bridge is a unique part of living in and visiting Nevada County. We need to get it reopened so that our kids and grandkids can experience that feeling of walking back through time, too.”

Weston has been at the forefront of the local effort to hold state parks accountable for the faithful stewardship of public lands in western Nevada County that it owns and maintains, advocating for the installation of solar panels at Malakoff Diggins and challenging parks to find ways to dedicate the necessary money to keep the parks viable.

The Bridgeport Covered Bridge has been closed since 2011, when parks department officials first noticed structural integrity issues that could potentially endanger pedestrians attempting to cross the river.

Parks estimates the project to correct the issues and render the bridge serviceable would cost about $1.1 million.

“Our first priority is to stabilize the bridge so there is no further damage,” said Parks Sector Superintendent Matt Green. “That work will start next year now that we have funds and permits in place.”

The parks department will allocate about $220,000 to stabilize the bridge, but an additional $1.1 million will be needed to fully restore the bridge to a functional condition.

The department has raised about half of the funds via a federal grant, which stipulates the local community must raise approximately $62,000 in matching funds.

The South Yuba River Parks Association, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the park with volunteers and money, has launched a campaign to raise money, awareness and political support for the renovation project. The association has raised about $30,000 thus far in the campaign.

“We welcome donations and other community volunteers to join the campaign to save the covered bridge,” said SYRPA President Dave Anderson. “We need folks with public speaking skills to help get the word out to other organizations. We also need help with PR, fundraising and grant writing.”

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or call 530-477-4239.

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The Union Updated Dec 8, 2014 05:38PM Published Dec 26, 2013 10:27PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.