Officials say there is no new information in the investigation of a suspicious fire at the 149-year-old covered bridge in Lynchburg, but Mayor Terry Burden says the bridge will be rebuilt in the next year using $650,000 in grant funds recently awarded to the village.
“We’ve contacted three contractors that do these old bridges, so they’ll be coming down to do bids… and hopefully we’ll get that started this year,” Burden told The Times-Gazette on Friday.
According to Burden, the village was recently awarded $300,000 from the state and $350,000 from the federal government to rebuild the historic bridge on High Street.
Burden said contractors will use cranes to take the bridge off the stream and rebuild it on the bank. According to the mayor, the whole structure will be rebuilt and builders will remain faithful to its original design.
“I’m hoping to get it done by June of 2020,” Burden said.
As previously reported, state authorities are investigating a suspicious fire that threatened the bridge two weeks ago.
At about 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29, the Lynchburg Area Joint Fire and Ambulance District responded to the bridge, where a small fire was burning. The fire was quickly extinguished, but Assistant Chief Justin Allen said it “had some effect on the structure.”
There were no reported injuries.
The Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the fire, and Public Information Office Brian Bohnert said Friday afternoon that there is no new information available.
Burden previously told the Highland County commissioners that a neighbor told him they saw three young people at the scene “with a tarp waving it like a fan,” and that they ran away when confronted.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Lynchburg fire district at 937-364-2915 or the fire marshal at 1-800-589-2728.
The bridge, originally opened in 1870, spans the east fork of the Little Miami River and connects Highland County and Clinton County. Burden said Friday that it is the only bridge in the nation that connects two counties.
Highland County Engineer Dean Otworth said the covered bridge is the last of its kind in Highland County.
In 1969, a new bridge was constructed nearby over the east fork Little Miami River, allowing access to Lynchburg from Clinton County.
The Lynchburg covered bridge was retired from active service and closed to traffic, and Clinton County relinquished rights to the bridge, according to various sources. Five years later, the bridge sustained severe storm damage when high winds blew most of the roof into the east fork Little Miami River.
Materials were donated for repairs, and the Lynchburg Historical Foundation launched a fundraising campaign, which brought in $6,000 for repairs. The restoration and renovation was eventually carried out by volunteers.
The bridge was refurbished again between 2003 and 2005, according to a plaque on the bridge.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570.