Belmont County (Ohio) bridge engineer receives historic bridge preservation award

Photo: Belmont County Engineering Department.Photo: Belmont County Engineering Department.

During the Ohio Bridge Conference August 17-18 in Columbus, Belmont County Engineer Fred Bennett received a statewide historic bridge preservation award for his work preserving historic landmarks in the area, The Times Leader reports.

The award was sponsored by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Ohio Historical Society, the County Engineer’s Association, and the National Road Association.

“We just rehabilitated two bridges,” Bennett told the news agency, adding that the two 12-foot bridges near Morristown and Lloydsville, part of the original National Road from Maryland to Illinois, date from the 1820s and are still in use. â€śThere’s several of these stone arches left along the road, not a whole lot, but they’re all deteriorated. They’re both active bridges. Traffic uses them.”

Repair work on the bridges began in 2015 and was completed in 2016. â€śIt was an ODOT contract,” Bennett told the news agency, explaining that the stone arch bridges needed extensive rehabilitation work. As the bridges were dismantled, all the stones were marked so they could be reassembled correctly“On a stone-arch bridge, what holds the bridge together is the weight of the bridge itself,” he added, noting that the keystone holds the stones in place.

“Through the years, some of the old stones were starting to slip out or deteriorate,” Bennett explained to the news agency. “We were at the point where we were going to have to close the bridges down and replace them, and we didn’t want to replace them with a bridge that we built today. We wanted to restore the historic value of it. They actually tore it apart, then laid the stone back on the false-work, then on top of that they poured a concrete arch. They’ll probably last another hundred years.”

According to the news agency, the project was paid for with federal transportation enhancement funds, Toll Road Credit funds, Credit Bridge Program funds, and local funding. The final cost for both bridges together was $1.1 million, $208,000 of which was for design.