NEW JASPER TOWNSHIP — One hundred and thirty-four years after it was built, the Charles F. Dean Ballard Road Covered Bridge is sporting a new roof, up-to-date siding and fresh green paint.
Built in 1883 at the site of the William C. Dean farm near the grist mill of Lyman Ballard, the original Howe Truss bridge spanned 92 feet. At the time, the covered bridge era was ending and steel started to become the material of choice.
The recent construction for the bridge, which sits on North Ballard Road overlooking Caesar Creek, began in August 2016. The bridge reportedly had termite-damage among other damages. Restoration efforts consisted of taking the bridge apart and putting it back together with new pieces.
The total cost for the restoration neared $500,000, Greene County Engineer Bob Geyer said. Eighty percent of the funds for the project were provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) while the other 20 percent of funds came from the local bridge levy.
Geyer stood at the bridge entrance June 9 and spoke to a crowd of county residents, state and local officials, and the Dean family during the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony.
“I think that it is important to preserve our history, especially our transportation history. We’ve let way too many covered bridges go by the wayside … I think they’re magnificent structures,” he said.
Geyer renamed the bridge to honor the late Dean for his devotion to the structure. Although Dean did not want Route 35 to separate the Dean farm from the bridge, he continued maintenance and security of the bridge even after the road was constructed.
The restoration marks the final project completed in a series of historic covered bridge restoration efforts.
Of the six covered bridges in Greene County, the Ballard Road Bridge is the third to be restored, following the Engle Mill Road and the Stevenson Road covered bridges.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.