PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County Engineer Craig Opperman, and others have been working for months in an effort to restore the Otway Covered Bridge. In an interview with the Daily Times, Opperman said the project will get funded but the extent of funding is still unknown.
In August of 2012 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.
“As far as funding (local match) things that are going to happen, things look very positive. It’s a matter of what we can do, depending on what we are going to be allowed to do and what funds I can use and where funds are coming from,” Opperman said.
He said it is a complicated answer for a complicated project.
“Funds may becoming from all different directions on this, for the local match. The federal portion is set, the government has committed $285,025 for this project,” Opperman said. “We have an issue with the local match portion because, we have a steel truss next to the bridge that’s not in good shape and we want to try to do something with that at the same time. We want to try to make the whole structure passable.”
Opperman said he and others are working on a lot of different aspects to this project.
“The covered bridge is going to get funded. What we are going to be able to do for other things, that’s still up in the air. Things are progressing in the right direction,” Opperman said.
Part of Opperman’s efforts to raise the money for bridge restoration was to have the county take over the ownership of the structure. In 2012 the Scioto County Commissioners approved a resolution to transfer ownership of the Otway Covered Bridge to the county.
According to Opperman, similar resolutions were passes by the Village of Otway and Brush Creek Township.
“Throughout our process of trying to figure out how to fund this thing, we’ve uncovered the Otway Historical Society owns the bridge, but not the adjoining ground next to it. In order to facilitate grant funding opportunities presently and in the future, we’ve worked with the village of Otway and Brush Creek Township on trying to get a road dedication through there, which will help facilitate funding options,” Opperman said.
He said each agency involved has passed a resolution as an agreement on how the bridge will operate.
“This agreement gives control to the Scioto County Engineer’s Office to maintain and take care of this bridge and facilitate this project. As the main governing agency in the county, we will be the ones to maintain the structure and will be inspecting it annually,” Opperman said. “We will be putting it on our inventory with shared jurisdiction. Everybody is going to work together to try to preserve this roadway.”
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.
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. 228, or email@example.com.