Lancaster - Repair work is underway on the historic John Bright Number 2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster. The bridge was damaged in an arson January 15.
"We're doing demolition work on the bridge to get rid of burned and damaged beams," said Lancaster Campus Interim Physical Plant Director Mark Bateson. "We're also taking the flooring that was damaged out."
The fire was set at the intersection of structural members about mid-span on the bridge. Support posts underneath the bridge were damaged and there were two large holes in the deck that goes across the bridge.
The bridge is listed with the U.S. Parks Department on its Registry of Historic Places and is a significant aspect of campus and community history in support of the Lancaster Festival. The bridge was built in 1881 by August Borneman. It originally spanned Poplar Creek near Carroll, but was relocated to the Lancaster Campus in 1988 for preservation. It has a reverse bowstring style truss, which is a very rare bridge design.
"After the burned and damaged boards are taken out, we will replace them with new beams and new oak boards," said Bateson. "We're using wood that came with the bridge when it was brought here. We didn't use all the wood when the bridge was relocated to campus. The wood has been stored in the barn for all these years."
Crews started working to remove the damaged wood this week. Bateson said he expects the project will take about a month to complete. The bridge is located along the Lancaster City Bike Trail and has been closed to the public since the fire.
"This bridge is important historically and important to the community," said Lancaster Campus Dean Jim Smith. "We wanted to repair it as soon as possible."