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Historic covered bridge eyed for another makeover

March 14, 2007|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The historic Martin's Mill Bridge along Weaver Road might again bear the weight of regular travelers.

Antrim Township is considering another rehabilitation of the covered bridge, which has been closed since 1986 to vehicular traffic except on special occasions.

On Tuesday, supervisors heard the results of a condition study performed by Hollidaysburg, Pa.-based engineering firm P. Joseph Lehman Inc.

Martin Malone, business development director for Lehman, said the wooden bridge still has about 75 percent of its original lumber but is not capable of handling everyday traffic.

Bridge design director Husam Obeid said the 158-year-old bridge has suffered localized damage to its 205-foot lattice-like town trusses, which run the length of the bridge.

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Obeid, who has more than 18 years of experience working with bridges, said the bridge shows signs of insect and rot damage, as well as lateral sway.

"The structure could only carry about 2 tons of light load as it is," Obeid said. "It should remain closed until a full rehabilitation of the trusses is performed."

Malone said the township could restore the bridge while maintaining its historical integrity and status on the National Register. The bridge spans Conococheague Creek.

Quoting a figure of $900,000 for a full rehabilitation, Malone said his firm will help the township find funding for the restoration at no additional charge.

"I submitted a Congressional Appropriations request through Congressman (Bill) Shuster's office already," he said.

Malone listed many other possibilities for funding to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday and said it is possible to get most of the project funded through grants like the Federal Transportation Enhancement Program.

With a current statewide push by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell for completion of enhancement projects, Malone said the township could get up to 80 percent of the project funded or 100 percent of the construction costs covered through the transportation enhancement program.

The board did not decide Tuesday whether to undertake another renovation of the bridge, but did give Malone the green light to submit a proposal for restoration and search for funding.

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