County engineer: 2010-11 is target for completion of covered bridge repairs

The newspaper gets calls regularly asking “When are they going to finish repairing the covered bridges?” or “When is Horton Mill Bridge going to be opened to traffic again?”

This update from county engineer Richard Spraggins is the best information presently available. It’s not cast in stone. Time of completion can still be affected by the weather, and by regulations specified in the two separate grants funding renovation and repair – not to mention by the vagaries of contractors’ schedules.

According to Spraggins, peripheral repairs can’t be done until the required structural analysis and remediation are complete. All three bridges are currently considered safe for loads of only two tons. All three must be reinforced to be rated for three-ton loads. That requires replacing and/or adding floor beams. That work has been in progress for about two months, and is expected to continue into, perhaps through, this fall.

By early next year, Spraggins said, bids can be let for further repairs and maintenance, including replacing roofs and flooring, drainage work on the entrances to Swann and Easley bridges, cosmetic work on the walls of all three, and applying flame retardant to all wooden members. That work will take roughly a year to complete, Spraggins said. He said some four million board feet of lumber will be needed for the three bridges. Total cost for all three is in the $550,000 range.

“Probably Easley will be the first to be completed since there’s the least work involved and it’s the safest because of the height,” he said. “Easley might be complete by latter part of 2010. I would say Horton Mill might be the last to reopen, and we’re probably looking at 2011 – maybe early 2011, if nothing else happens – for that.”