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