Historic covered bridge in Nevada County will get a full restoration
Nevada County’s Bridgeport Covered Bridge, built in 1862 and the longest covered single-span wood bridge still standing, is about to get a huge facelift.
Organizers of the Save Our Bridge Committee have secured enough funding to begin work on restoring the aging span after seven years of lobbying legislators, according to Doug Moon, chair of the committee.
The bridge, which crosses the South Yuba River about 12 miles northwest of Grass Valley, was closed to cars in 1972 and to pedestrians in
2011. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown approved $1.3 million for the bridge’s restoration in
2014, according to previous Bee reporting.
Within a year, stabilization work was completed to keep the bridge in place until the full restoration could address structural problems, said Moon. However, the cost of the restoration increased after new estimates were made, and there was no longer enough money to restore the bridge.
Last year’s state budget appropriated more money for the project, Moon said, and now backers have the sum they need - $6.8 million - to complete the restoration.
Moon said that discussions between contractors and the California Parks and Recreation Department will begin next week to determine what materials to use and how to do the work. Actual construction is slated to begin in the spring and be completed by the end of the year.
Because the bridge is registered as a historical landmark at both state and national levels, specific criteria must be adhered to during the restoration. For example, all pieces of the bridge that cannot be salvaged have to be replaced with materials that are as similar as possible to the original, Moon said.
“It’s an iconic structure, especially for Nevada County,” Moon said. “In almost every restaurant, bank, real estate office, there’s murals or pictures (of the bridge)... It’s an iconic structure in the area and a big part of our history in Nevada County.”
The bridge was an important transportation link during the Gold Rush, when ships would drop cargo in Marysville, Moon said. The cargo would be brought across the bridge on wagons, and then would be taken through the Virginia Turnpike into Nevada.
The area surrounding the bridge within the South Yuba River State Park is a popular recreation location in the summer, with multiple swimming holes. Moon said the park gets about 700,000 visitors annually.
‘‘ IT’S AN ICONIC STRUCTURE, ESPECIALLY FOR NEVADA COUNTY. Doug Moon, Organizers of the Save Our Bridge Committee chair
The Bridgeport Covered Bridge in Nevada County was built in 1862.
The Bridgeport Covered Bridge uses truss and arch construction. It has been closed since 2011, but will be repaired this year.