By Nathan Pilling
XENIA TOWNSHIP — Local officials dedicated one of the few Smith Truss-style bridges remaining in the country Friday morning. Officials dedicated the Stevenson Road Covered Bridge in Xenia Township after restoration efforts wrapped up earlier this year.
“I think what we’ve done here is for the future generations,” Greene County Engineer Bob Geyer said. “This is part of transportation history. … We’re looking to preserve the history.”
The structure was originally built – depending on who you ask – in 1873 or 1877, and is a Smith Truss bridge originally manufactured by the Smith Bridge Company in Tippecanoe, now Tipp City.
After more than a century of wear and tear and vandalism, the bridge was restored to preserve its historic value. Partial funding for the project came through a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2012.
The federal funds (approximately $520,000) paid for about 80 percent of the project (in total originally estimated to be $660,000). The federal funds came as part of the National Historical Covered Bridge Preservation Program. County funds made up the remaining 20 percent of the project.
Restoration efforts included replacing old, deteriorated timber, adding steel beams to reinforce the wooden trusses, as well as installing security lighting and electronic surveillance cameras to deter vandalism. Those who worked on the project attempted to preserve as much of the original structure as possible.
“We actually maintained a lot of the old structure,” said Doug Miller, a designer with Jones Stuckey, an engineering firm that contributed to the restoration. “So instead of throwing away a whole piece of timber just because one end of it was deteriorated, we saved the majority of that timber, and we spliced a new piece on there, so that we tried to save the integrity of the bridge.”
The covered bridge, which spans Massie’s Creek in Xenia Township, is now little more than a historical display, as traffic crosses the creek via a modern, concrete bridge. The bridge is now only load rated for pedestrian traffic.
Restoration of the Stevenson Road Covered Bridge follows the restoration of the covered bridge on Engle Mill Road in Caesarscreek Township and precedes plans to restore the covered bridge on Ballard Road in New Jasper Township starting next year.
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.