The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

July 15, 2008

GETTING COVERED FOR DEDICATION

Nation’s longest covered bridge will be dedicated Aug. 26

It’s official: Ashtabula County’s newest covered bridge, the longest in the nation, will be dedicated 2:30 p.m. Aug. 26.

Betty Morrison, executive director of the Covered Bridge Festival Committee, said the date was decided upon last week during a meeting with Ashtabula County Engineer Tim Martin.

“We expect to have a bunch of dignitaries in town that day, elected officials,” Morrison says. “Growth Partnership is coordinating the events of the morning and having a lunch at Kent State, and we are hooking our event onto that at the end of the day.”

The bridge has progressed rapidly toward completion since the four 152-foot spans were set in May. Workers are securing more than 600 18-gauge steel panels to the roof, the ridge of which is about 120 feet above the Ashtabula River Gulf. Meantime, carpenters are completing the pedestrian walkways and started installing the siding and building the portals. Morrison says the siding will be green, making this bridge the county’s covered bridge of that color.

Morrison says the contractor, Union Industrial of Ashtabula, expects to have its portion of the bridge work wrapped up by the first part of August. The county still will have paving and approach work to complete before the bridge can open, but Martin and the Festival Committee are hoping the bridge will open up to traffic following the ceremony. Construction vehicles already are driving on the bridge’s wide wooden deck.

The two-lane bridge will carry all legal highway loads, including school buses and tractor-trailer traffic.

The dedication will be held at the south end, off Plymouth Ridge Road, where parking is plentiful.

During the dedication, the new bridge, which is on State Road, will be officially named. The county already has a State Road Bridge, in Monroe Township, which was dedicated 25 years ago as the first new covered bridge to be built in Ashtabula County in more than a half-century. It’s no secret that the committee hopes the bridge will bear the name of the man who conceived and designed it, John Smolen, who was county engineer when the bridge was announced more than eight years ago.

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