The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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October 10, 2007

Under way, but a long ways to go

Construction site for 17th covered bridge won’t be open during festival

Covered bridge lovers will have to wait another year before the nation’s longest covered bridge is officially part of an Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival.

The 600-foot bridge, which is being constructed across the Ashtabula River in Ashtabula Township, won’t be completed until Aug. 30, 2008, according to a new extension recently granted to the contractor by the county.

That’s nearly a year longer than what had originally been anticipated. Martin says bad weather and a very ambitious original schedule are the reasons construction quickly fell behind schedule; there was not enough time and good weather to get the excavation and fill phases of the project done last fall.

“It was a real tight construction schedule,” says Martin. “All had to go well to get the dirt work done on that schedule.”

Koski Construction has completed that phase of the work and the project is now in the hands of Union Industrial Contractors, with the exception of a concrete retaining wall being built by the county highway department at the southeast end of the bridge.

“It’s moving along well,” Martin says.

The construction is not far enough along, however, to merit making the site an official stop on this year’s covered bridge tours, says Betty Morrison, executive director of the Covered Bridge Festival Committee. The 24th Annual Covered Bridge Festival is Saturday and Sunday.

“The construction company has asked us to discourage people from coming there during the time they are working,” Morrison says. “We tell people if they are going to go see the site, go in the evening or on a weekend. We don’t want to get in the way of the construction. It is a construction site and we need to respect that.”

That said, the site is a popular destination for both local and out-of-town covered bridge buffs. Although she doesn’t track inquiries, Morrison guesses that at least 50 of the several hundred recent inquiries fielded by the office have focused on the new bridge’s location. Because the bridge was originally scheduled for completion in 2007, many bridge fans were expecting to see it during their visit this year, Morrison says.

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