Bridgeport Covered Bridge, one of Nevada County’s most iconic symbols of its prominent role in the California Gold Rush, remains fenced off from pedestrians because of its degradation.
With at least $600,000 needed to repair the bridge at the South Yuba River State Park, Grass Valley’s city council is poised today to join Western Nevada County’s two other major governmental entities in a call for California and its leading representatives to fully fund its restoration.
“The support of the Nevada County board of supervisors with a similar resolution and the councils is very important to raise awareness and apply pressure to our state to provide funding necessary to repair the bridge before it falls and collapses,” said Dave Anderson, president of the South Yuba River State Park Association, at a Jan. 8 meeting of the Nevada City Council, which also signed onto the county’s December call for funds.
Anderson said Bridgeport, which was built in 1862, is the longest single-span covered bridge left in the world but only because a similar and slightly larger bridge collapsed a couple years ago in Germany.
“That bridge is a great economic provider to the community and our area,” Anderson said, noting that the park draws approximately 500,000 visitors annually.
“If you transfer that into a picnic basket full of food, gasoline and other taxes, it is a significant number of people,” he said.
The bridge was closed to both vehicles and pedestrians following a 2011 engineering study that revealed severe structural deficiencies, including dry rot, twisted arches and misaligned end supports.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation estimated the cost for initial bridge repairs at approximately $1.1 million and secured a $545,000 federal grant to be used toward this project with local fundraising efforts to raise a required $62,000 match.
“That still leaves us about $600,000 short on the repair of the bridge,” Anderson said.
The county’s and cities’ resolutions urge Gov. Jerry Brown, state legislators and senior leaders of the California Department of Parks and Recreation to fully fund the Bridgeport Bridge renovation project and schedule the project for completion by April 2015.
“The state has come forward with $220,000, partially funded by matching funds for volunteer work, to provide temporary stabilization of the bridge,” Anderson said. “That is just to keep it safe until the formal repair work can be done. That work is going to be done some time this year.”
The public portion of the Grass Valley City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. today.
A presentation on the bridge repair is slated to be followed by a resolution supporting the call for its funding as part of the consent items on the agenda, which are a group of items needing council approval not expected to necessitate debate that are adopted in one sweeping motion.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.