The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

August 23, 2011

Big day for little bridge

Shortest span officially opens after three years of construction

GENEVA —  The first vehicles to cross the nation’s shortest covered bridge tested the true strength of the 18-foot span Monday.

“We aren’t starting off light,” Geneva City Manager Jim Pearson said. “We are taking the heaviest vehicles in the city over the bridge to really show that it can handle anything that can travel on a highway.”

With the cutting of a red ribbon, the bridge, which has been under construction for three years, was opened.

“The bridge is complete,” Pearson said. “We wanted to get the street open even if it means opening it before the Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival.”

Pearson said the small toll booths — to be used as tourism information hubs — will be added to the bridge landscape before October.

“The toll booths are built and at the vocational school,” Pearson said. “We were happy to work with the school all the way through this project, from bridge work to toll booth construction.”

The West Liberty Street Bridge will be dedicated during the festival, held on Oct. 8 and 9.

Covered Bridge Festival public relations chairwoman Betty Morrison said the bridge puts Ashtabula County on the map, times two.

“Now our county is home to both the longest and the shortest covered bridges in the nation,” she said. “That is quite a feather in our cap.”

Morrison said she is happy to see the Geneva fire truck roll over the short bridge, but she has bigger loads for the little structure.

“I just can’t wait to see the tour buses go through it. The buses will look like hot dogs in a bun,” she said.

“I think the people who live on the west side of town will really appreciate the bridge being open,” Pearson said.

Built in partnership with the Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School carpentry and construction classes, Pearson said the construction of the shortest bridge was a journey.

“This was a real journey from start to finish,” he said. “We learned a lot in the last few years as we worked on the bridge, and now it will serve our community for generations.”

 

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