Resolution urges State representatives to renovate and reopen historic bridge closed since 2011
The Nevada County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution yesterday (December 10th) — see below — urging State officials to complete the renovation of the Bridgeport Covered Bridge, which has been closed to the public since 2011. The draft resolution sponsored by Board Chair Hank Weston directs County staff to communicate to the Governor, State legislators, and State Parks staff the importance of renovating the bridge quickly in order to prevent further deterioration or a catastrophic collapse.
“The covered bridge must be restored and re-opened to foot traffic as soon as possible,” said Supervisor Weston whose district includes Bridgeport. “Walking across that bridge is a unique part of living 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.”
Built in 1862, the 229-foot Bridgeport Covered Bridge at the South Yuba River State Park is the longest single-span wooden covered bridge still in existence in the United States and is a National and State historic landmark. An engineering survey in 2011 revealed severe structural problems including twisted arches, dry rot of structural supports and misalignment of end supports. As a result, the bridge was deemed unsafe for foot traffic and was closed due to safety concerns.
“Our first priority is to stabilize the bridge so there is no further damage. That work will start
next year now that we have funds and permits in place,” said Parks Sector Superintendent Matt Green.
The California Department of Parks and Recreations (DPR) has budgeted $220,000 for the stabilization effort with $114,500 in State funds being “matched” with over $100,000 from in-kind volunteer hours. Volunteers from the South Yuba River Parks Association (SYRPA) and the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) have donated over 11,000 hours in service at the Bridgeport in the South Yuba River State Park. Volunteers staffed the Bridgeport Visitor Center, walked the trails and beaches serving as docents, cleaned up the park and talked to visitors about stewardship in part to fill gaps left by down-staffing at the parks. The stabilization project should be ready to go out to bid next spring, and DPR encourages local contractors to bid for the work.
Once the covered bridge is stabilized, the next step will be restoration and rehabilitation. DPR estimates that work at approximately $1.1 million. DPR has secured a $545,000 federal grant to be used toward this project, with local fundraising efforts working to raise a required $62,000 in matching funds. However, nearly $600,000 is still needed to fully restore and reopen the Bridgeport Covered Bridge.
In response, the South Yuba River Parks Association (SYRPA) is spearheading a “Save Our Bridge” campaign to raise funds, increase awareness, and build widespread community and political support to save the Bridge from collapse and reopen it to the public. To date, SYRPA has partnered with the California State Parks Foundation to provide $30,000 in local matching funds to DPR, has met with state and local elected representatives to enlist their support, and expanded the Save Our Bridge campaign to include community and business leaders from the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), the Economic Resource Council, and local Chambers of Commerce.
“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. Anyone interested in donating or volunteering should contact SYRPA at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
“In 2011, our community came together to save the South Yuba River State Park from closure. In 2014, we are going to come together to save the Covered Bridge too,” said SYRCL Executive Director Caleb Dardick.