Blaine Bridge Community Preservation Project  
 

 

Blaine Bridge Saved For Future Generations

By SHELLEY HANSON

BLAINE - One year, thousands of bricks and gallons of perspiration later, village residents celebrated the restoration of the historic Blaine Bridge on Sunday.

  The $1.6 million restoration project was conducted by the Sheldon Gantt Co. of Niles, Ohio. The bridge, however, needed to be more than just restored - it needed to be saved. Sue Douglass, chief officer of the Blaine Bridge Community Preservation Group, said the bridge was ready to crumble. In 2001, it was discovered the deck, superstructure and substructure were in critical condition. Because of its historical significance and the intervention of the Blaine Bridge Preservation Group, ODOT authorized the reconstruction of the remaining two arches and deck, funded via the Federal Highway Administration Enhancement Program.

  Douglass believes it is important to save the structure for future generations to learn about and enjoy.

  "It's just so beautiful to look at. I'm glad so many kids are here," Douglass said while watching some children run across the bridge.

  At 345 feet, it is the last and longest remaining three-arch "S" bridge along the entire six-state historic National Road system. It was built on an ancient Indian trail that became Zane's Trace and later the National Road. The bridge is the oldest documented sandstone bridge in Ohio and served as the state's official Bicentennial Bridge.

  John Skoberne, treasurer of the preservation group, hopes the bridge will attract tourists to the community. He also wants local residents to visit the historic structure.

  "Every community deserves a project to advance their own community, to improve it," Skoberne said.

  Skoberne said the preservation group would like to see a park-like area designated near the bridge for visitors' use.

  Bridgeport resident Tim Duffy was one of the many locals who attended the celebration Sunday. He believes the bridge will help unify the community and hopes more projects like it occur.

  "This is nice what they did. It was a lot of work," Duffy said. "Blaine, Bridgeport, this is all one community. At least I feel like it is."

  Thousands of salvaged bricks were brought in from Iowa for the restoration project. Every effort was taken to maintain the historic integrity of the span. It now is a reinforced concrete bridge inside. The stone is locked in place by the concrete. The bridge has been renovated two prior times. It was used until 1991. It was closed to pedestrian traffic in 1994. In 1998, the western end of the bridge was reconstructed with the assistance of ODOT.

   Staff Writer Art Limann contributed to this report.

 

BACK

Copyright 2006 Blaine Bridge Community Preservation Project