By Wayne Allen
August 27, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County is currently seeking bids on a project that would rehabilitate the Otway Covered Bridge.
“This is our state and federally funded project to rehabilitate the Otway Covered Bridge. This is the one we’ve been working on for a while now and after having some recent funding issues we were able to restore funding,” said Craig Opperman, Scioto County Engineer. “Last week I got notification that we were going to have to pay $112,000 that we were not anticipating.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. In the process of securing the new funding source, the project will come out ahead financially, he said.
“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.”
Opperman these kinds of repairs are very specific and likely very specific companies will bid on the project.
“We’re having a hard time finding companies. Covered bridge work is very specialized and the contractor must be ODOT (Ohio Department Of Transportation) pre-qualified, since there are federal funds involved,” he said.
In a released statement, David Simmons, President of the Ohio Historic Bridge Association, said about the project, “the plans have been prepared with a thoroughness and attention to detail that is seldom seen on covered bridge projects and could be used as a model for other similar projects. I am confident in saying that the completion of the project …will result in an exemplary historic preservation effort.”
According to released information from The Otway Historical Society, the Otway Covered Bridge has been a historical landmark that has attracted people to our 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.
Opperman said the bid opening is scheduled for Sept. 12 with a possible start date of Sept. 30. He indicated a possible completion date of July 18, 2014.
Donations can be sent to Scenic Scioto Heritage Trail, PO Box 536 Portsmouth, Ohio 45662 (Attention Covered Bridge.) For more information contact Norval Davis at 740-372-8320, Mike Seaman at 740-372-8888, or Jake Orlett at 740-259-5747, or visit the groups Facebook pages “Otway Historical Society and Otway Covered Bridge.”
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.