Covered bridge rehabilitation project closer to reality

By Wayne Allen

August 18, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

Many throughout the community have been working diligently to raise necessary funds to complete rehabilitation work on the Otway Covered Bridge. Officials with the project are hopeful the project will soon go out for bid and work can begin. One of the people leading the effort is Scioto County Engineer Craig Opperman.

“Last week I got notification that we were going to have to pay $112,000 that we were not anticipating,” Opperman said. “There was a question on funding that was previously arranged with the Federal Highway Administration. When they went to establish the funding for the project they (Federal Highway Administration) said they can’t do that, even though they previously said they could.”

Opperman said the issue was worked out that same day. He said in the process of securing the new funding source, the project will come out ahead financially.

“Sometimes the bad things that happen, turn out to be better than what they were before,” Opperman said. “As a result we are slightly in a better position than we were before.”

He said currently the project plans are with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) awaiting approval.

“We are waiting on them to authorize the project so we can advertise it,” Opperman said. “We wanted to have it advertised Aug. 1 but, it’s been delayed because of various things. We are at the mercy of Federal Highway and ODOT right now, but we are pushing through.”

According to released information from The Otway Historical Society, the Otway Covered Bridge has been a historical landmark that has attracted people to Scioto County and to the Otway area for many years. However, the bridge has fallen into a state of serious disrepair.

In March of 2012, a portion of the bridge roof was damaged by an F-0 strength tornado that went through Otway and also damaged the fire department. According to Otway Mayor Suzanne Nichols, the damages to the bridge were estimated at $1,800.

Nichols said Belfor Restoration of Columbus was awarded a contract to replace the damaged part of the covered bridge roof.

Opperman said the bridge currently has a bow in it. He said the bridge needs attention in order to preserve it.

“We are trying to do this as quickly as we can in trying to address this situation,” Opperman said.

According to the Scenic Scioto Heritage Trail, the bridge is located southwest of the junction of state routes 73 and 348. The bridge was erected in 1874 and was in use until it was bypassed in 1963. This historic structure is listed on the National Registry and was completely restored by the village of Otway in 1974. What makes the Otway Bridge so unique is that, of the 80 or so covered bridges that were built in the history of Scioto County, it is the lone survivor.

Donations can be sent to Scenic Scioto Heritage Trail, PO Box 536 Portsmouth, OH 45662 (Attention Covered Bridge.)

For more information visit the groups Facebook pages “Otway Historical Society and Otway Covered Bridge.”

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.