Bridgeport covered bridge work contract approved, restoration to start in spring
January 8, 2019
Bridgeport's iconic covered bridge, which has been closed to the public for more than seven years, could reopen by the end of 2019.
According to a press release, all permits are now in place and the contractor could start construction this spring.
"I am happy to see all the hard work by everyone will soon be accomplished," said outgoing Nevada County Supervisor Hank Weston, who was instrumental in the efforts to fund the renovation. "I look forward to crossing the covered bridge as member of the community, knowing all the hurdles we had to overcome."
The bridge, originally built in 1862, is the longest single-span covered bridge in the world, according to the California State Parks. The historic structure, which was designed to support 15 tons, was built by David Wood, an entrepreneur who charged people to cross the river. It served California's gold miners and also was the main passage for heavy freight wagons on their way to the silver mines proliferating in Virginia City, Nev.
But California State Parks officials in October 2011 made the decision to fence the bridge, which spans the South Yuba River, after a maintenance person noticed some twisting of the bridge, as well as some shifting. The bridge needs new interior support structures and must be raised 18 inches because of higher river levels. The reconstruction will keep the structure's historic appearance and will be paid for with more than $4 million in state funding.
The project was put out to bid in April after years of fighting for those funds. In May, the process suffered a hiccup when Nevada County was informed there was a funding shortfall that could delay the project for at least a year and drive costs up. But after a campaign by county supervisors and the Save Our Bridge Campaign Committee, the state's Budget Conference Committee unanimously voted to include the additional $2.8 million needed.
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The project now is fully funded, the Spectra Company has been selected as the contractor and a Notice To Proceed has been issued, a release from the South Yuba River Park Association stated.
Actual construction work is set to start in the spring, with a completion date set for the end of the year. The association noted that any number of issues could delay the work schedule, including the weather and river levels, the condition of the bridge as it is disassembled and the availability of the materials needed to restore the bridge to its original historic condition. Planning is already underway, however, for a multi-day celebration once the bridge is ready for public access.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.