The world’s longest bridge of it’s kind is undergoing a major modernization effort thanks to a public-private partnership, according to a park official.
Since its closure in 2011, the 233-foot-long Bridgeport Covered Bridge at the South Yuba River State Park near Penn Valley, is being renovated and shored up; they expect to have it back open to foot traffic sometime in mid-2020.
“It’s the longest single span, truss arch covered bridge in the world,” said Matt Green, California State Parks acting Sierra District Superintendent. “It’s a mouthful but it’s unique and it’s a cool piece of architecture that has stood for a long period of time.”
Green credited Doug Moon and members of the Save Our Bridge Campaign Committee for the success of the multimillion dollar project that has rallied for both public and private funding to bring the bridge back to life.
“We would never have been able to do it without the Save Our Bridge Campaign Committee and the community,” Green said. “Doug Moon and the others made it a team effort and a lot of other people held this together and made sure it was a topic for the state and the state parks.”
The construction company doing the work had to show that they could preserve the look and feel of the timber that wraps the bridge as well as update it to modern safety standards.
“There’s a certain percentage of timber that will be replaced but much of it will remain and that was part of the contract that the construction company would maintain the historical integrity of the bridge,” he said. “It will meet modern specifications and we wanted to make sure that we could bring a horse-drawn wagon over it as well as allow people to walk across it.”
Green, who oversees parks in several counties, said there are a lot of historic elements that draw people.
“A lot of people say the smell of the old wood and timber as well as the history of the area is very unique,” he said. “I manage a big area and there are lots of historically significant places.”
In September, a Mabey brand bridge assembly was positioned inside of the wooden bridge and bolted down at both ends on independent shoring.
Ultimately, the historic bridge will sit about 18-inches above its present height.
A construction contract was awarded to Spectra Company in the fall of 2018 at a cost of $6.9 million.
The side shakes of the bridge were removed enabling inspection of the timber members and structures and it was determined that many of the original timbers are in good condition and will not need to be replaced; however an order has been placed for the portions that do need replacement.
For more information, visit www.southyubariverstatepark.org.