State to stabilize threatened covered bridge

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FLEMING COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ)A nationally recognized expert on covered bridges has been hired to stabilize the flood-damaged Grange City Covered Bridge in Fleming County.

“It will be a difficult and delicate project, but the Grange City Covered Bridge is an historic structure treasured by the people of Fleming County and the entire Buffalo Trace area, and we intend to do all we can to save it,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in announcing a contract.

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In late May, high water in heavy rains caused Fox Creek to overflow its banks, damaging the historic 1860s covered bridge, which spans the creek adjacent to KY 111 just north of Grange City.

State officials, including Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray, and rescue specialists assessed the bridge as engineers began planning both short-term stabilization and a longer-term restoration project.

“We knew from local support that we needed to save this treasure and that we needed expert help to do it,” Gray said. “We immediately formed a project team of KYTC preservationists, and consulted with nationally known covered bridge expert Arnold Graton. Today, I’m happy to report hes officially on board as the contractor who will oversee our efforts.”

The Buffalo Trace Covered Wooden Bridge Authority, in cooperation with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and the Buffalo Trace Area Development District, contracted the stabilization work to Arnold M. Graton Associates Inc., of New Hampshire.

The covered bridge authority will be responsible for labor and materials and will be reimbursed by KYTC. The project is estimated at $330,000.

Under the same contract, Graton also will be paid to apply a fresh fire-retardant coating to a second bridge, the Cabin Creek Covered Bridge, in neighboring Lewis County.

KYTC will reimburse the covered bridge authority $1,500 for that work.

“Current plans for the Grange City bridge revolve around shoring up the structure to get it temporarily stabilized,” said Danny Peake, KYTC’s manager for the project. “Our District 9 crews have poured a concrete anchor that will be used as a tie-off for structural steel supports inserted beneath the bridge to keep it from slipping further. The reinforcement is designed to protect the bridge from structural failures while a long-range restoration is being planned. The Transportation Cabinet will work closely with Graton and announce those plans as they become available.”

To protect the public, the bridge and the area around it have been closed until further notice. Please do not cross barricades or caution tape.

The Grange City Covered Bridge, located in the Grange City community south of Hillsboro, is an 86-foot-long Burr truss design built between 1865 and 1870. The bridge was closed to traffic in 1968, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

It’s one of about a dozen covered bridges still standing in the state, and one of three in Fleming County known to tourists as The Covered Bridge Capital of Kentucky.