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Commissioners discuss rehabilitation of collapsed covered bridge

WOODSFIELD — Monroe County officials are hoping to begin the rehabilitation and restoration of the Knowlton Covered Bridge next year.

The historic bridge collapsed last summer due to a combination of the bridge’s deteriorating condition and bouts of harsh weather. Plans to renovate the bridge were in the works prior to its collapse but did not come to fruition before the span’s demise.

Monroe County Commissioners Mick Schumacher, Carl Davis and Tim Price spoke with Ron Mattox, program director for Woolpert, Inc., an engineering company hired by the county to aid in the rehabilitation project, via teleconference to discuss the project during Wednesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Mattox confirmed that the county still has the $950,000 grant secured through the Ohio Department of Transportation.

“I had a conversation with ODOT last week and we are moving forward with the design of the rehabilitation and restoration,” he said. “Everything is moving forward.”

The ODOT funding is to help preserve historic sites and can not be used for any other purpose, said Hebert Piatt, chairman of the Knowlton Covered Bridge Parks Board.

“These dollars are already earmarked for projects like this and cannot be used for road construction, maintenance and things like that. It is to be used for restoration of historic places,” Piatt said.

Davis said the funding will not come to Monroe County unless it goes toward the restoration of the historic bridge.

Mattox said he would have a draft of the bridge design early next week. Officials are hoping to begin the restoration project in the spring, he said.

“The idea when talking with ODOT is we get the plans done now and put this thing back out to bid this calendar year so that the contractor would be able to start sometime in the spring,” he said.

Mattox also inquired about salvaging what usable pieces of timber they can from the collapsed bridge. Schumacher said the bridge’s roof is on top of most of the rest of the pieces, which makes estimating their usefulness difficult.

“Until we get in there and pull off that roof and look at each of the members we won’t really know, but that’s the next step,” Mattox said.

Commissioners said they will find someone to take a look at the remaining materials and salvage everything they can.

The engineering firm’s original estimate to rehabilitate the bridge was around $1.3 million.

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