PDT Staff Writer
In August a federal grant of $285,025 was awarded to fund needed repairs and upgrades to the Otway Covered Bridge. In order to receive the funding $70,000 needs to be raised by the community as matching funds.
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, we often drive by on a regular basis, sometimes without even giving it a glance. It has been a lack of dreams that has allowed the bridge to become in a state of serious disrepair. It is a lack of dreams that threatens the bridge’s very existence for the next generation to enjoy.”
Scioto County Engineer Craig Opperman said if the Otway area were to receive a lot of rain, water would get on the bridge and it would likely receive significant damage.
“When the tornado went through (Otway) it did a lot more damage than some people may like to think. Fortunately there was some bracing inside of it, which helped to stabilize it,” Opperman said.
In March, 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 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 Otway Historical Society, the Scenic Scioto Heritage Trail Committee, the Otway Historical Society, Brush Creek Township Trustees, the Scioto County Commissioners, and the Scioto County Engineer’s Office have come together to work on formulating a plan and applying for grant monies that would allow the bridge to be repaired and preserved.
“If $70,000 can be raised before the upcoming deadline, the grant money will be released and construction to repair and preserve the structure could begin in the spring of 2013. However, if the matching funds ($70,000) are not raised, the grant funding will be lost and the future of the bridge will be in jeopardy,” said Jonathan King, President of the Otway Historical Society. “There is a deadline to get this money, there is also a deadline for the bridge because it’s failing fast.”
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.
The historical society’s the first covered bridge picnic on October 13, 2012. The picnic will be from noon to 5 p.m. at the Otway covered bridge. Beans and cornbread will be served.
Participants are asked to bring your chairs and a covered dish and friends.
Donations can be sent to Scenic Scioto Heritage Trail, PO Box 536 Portsmouth, OH 45662 (Attention Covered Bridge.)
For more information contact Norval Davis at 740-372-8320, Mike Seaman at 740-372-8888, or Jack 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. 208, or firstname.lastname@example.org.