Federal Money Assists Monroe County With Restoring Bridge

Mon June 02, 2008 - Midwest Edition

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) A $712,000 federal grant will help restore a historic covered bridge over a creek where Monroe County’s last such structure burned down more than 30 years ago.

The money will be added to the nearly $400,000 the county has already appropriated for the $1.2 million project to refurbish the 127-ft. long bridge.

The Federal Highway Administration awarded $712,000 of the $952,000 it had set aside for similar Indiana projects for the restoration of the single-span Burr arch truss bridge.

“It’s great,” Monroe County Public Works Director Bill Williams said. “I had no idea it was coming.”

He said the project would likely be bid out to contractors in 2010 and restoration would begin in 2011.

The bridge was erected in 1885 in Shelby County and spanned the Little Blue River north of Shelbyville, but was placed in storage in 1975 to protect it from deteriorating.

After restoration is complete, the bridge will span Bean Blossom Creek. It will be Monroe County’s first covered bridge since the last one at the site was destroyed by an arsonist in 1976.

Motorists have taken a 7-mi. detour to cross the creek since then, Williams said.

The highway department said in its grant application that the goal of the project is to “reclaim the county’s covered bridge heritage.”

In 1947 the county had nine covered bridges, but since then all have been replaced or destroyed, including three that were razed during the construction of Lake Monroe in the 1960s.