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Indiana's Medora Covered Bridge Funding
[WGN 14-36-04]

From: County History Preservation Society []
Sent: Wednesday, March 08, 2006 7:02 PM
To: Crouse, James
Subject: CB news from Jackson County

BROWNSTOWN, IND -- Jackson County Commissioners took a step toward trying to save one of the county's two remaining covered bridges Tuesday morning.
      It's "let's do something or let's pull it out of the river like we did the last one," Commissioners President Gary Darlage said during discussions about the Medora Covered Bridge. At 434 feet, the bridge is the longest covered bridge in the country* and the second-longest in the world. The three-span bridge was built in 1875 and spans the East Fork of the White River, east of Medora off Indiana 235.
      In January, the east span of the Bell Ford Bridge collapsed into the East Fork of the White River west of Seymour, and commissioners and other county officials are trying to determine the fate of that bridge.
      The county's third covered bridge spans the East Fork of the White River at Shieldstown, between Brownstown and Seymour.
      On Tuesday, Loren Noblitt with the county park board asked commissioners to approve additional funding to complete preliminary engineering for the Medora bridge with Bloomington engineer Jim Barker.
      County engineer Jason Fee said finishing the engineering work would cost about $35,000, and commissioners voted 3-0 to fund that work through money from the capital projects account. That account was established by the county to hold a $1.1 million loan the county received for capital projects. The loan will be repaid in 2007 with a tax levy, outside the general fund.
      The county has a $500,000 federal grant to rehabilitate the Medora bridge, but a $125,000 local match is needed. Fee said that $625,000 would cover work needed on the west and center spans of the bridge and put a new roof over the entire bridge. The eastern span is in the worst shape and needs work now to keep it from collapsing, Fee said. Plans are in place to stabilize that span for additional rehabilitation in the future. Fee said he is trying to determine if any work completed on the east span would apply toward the local match for the federal grant.
      Fee also sought and received approval to obtain funds from other projects from the loan. Those projects include one to straighten Enos Road east of County Road 875E ($70,000), continue work on a federally funded project to replace a bridge at Vallonia over the East Fork of the White River ($80,000) and replace Bridge 6 (County Road 1250W) in the Maumee area with a low-water crossing ($24,500).
      Fee said it is his hope that the $1.3 million Vallonia bridge replacement project, which has been in the works since the mid-1990s, may still begin before the end of this year. The $80,000 Fee requested is to finish engineering and purchase right of way.
      The present bridge will remain after the project is completed, and the county has included money in the project to provide railings for pedestrian walkways across the old bridge. Any federally funded project to replace a bridge classified as historic requires that the local governing maintain the old bridge, Fee said.
      "Of all the old bridges, the Vallonia bridge is in pretty good shape," Fee said Wednesday afternoon.
      Commissioners also told county highway superintendent Mike Garris to keep working on a project to sell an iron bridge on County Road 400S, west of Retreat. That bridge was replaced by the county several years ago. The old bridge was placed in storage at the county highway garage in hopes it could be rebuilt over a body of water somewhere, said Marina Gill, a member of the county's park board.
      That, however, hasn't happened, and an organization in a nearby county has a use for the bridge and asked about the county's willingness to part with it, Garris said.
      Fee said a local man also has expressed interest in obtaining the bridge and placing it over a pond in Jackson County.
      Garris said the bridge could be sold for scrap or sold to someone interested in restoring it. He also said he could sell it at a county sale set for April 22, but it would likely be sold as scrap at that point.
[* The Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge {29-10-09] spanning the Connecticut River between New Hampshire and Vermont is 460 feet long in two spans, built in 1866 using the Town Truss. The Medora Covered Bridge, at 434 feet may be the longest covered bridge in the country using the Burr Truss - VermontBridges Dot Com Editor]

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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267
This file posted 3/10/2006