CHARLESTON, WV – West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) bridge crews in Barbour County are making good progress on the restoration of the Carrollton Covered Bridge, which was badly damaged by a fire in 2017.
“We’re moving along pretty quick at this point and they’re getting to see the fruits of their labor,” said WVDOH District 7 Bridge Engineer Chad Boram, P.E. “I think they’re enjoying it.”
The bridge, the third oldest of 17 surviving covered bridge in West Virginia, was badly damaged by a fire in August 2017. The blaze destroyed much of the outer covering of the bridge but left the basic structure mostly intact.
The WVDOH was able to reopen the bridge to traffic in September 2017 after minor repairs to the modern bridge superstructure to ensure the bridge was safe. Consultants then developed plans on how to best restore the structure.
Work began in July with a thorough pressure washing. Once the bridge crews could see what they were dealing with they began to replace damaged sections of the bridge’s wooden superstructure.
A team of half a dozen or so has been steadily at work since then, cutting and shaping new bridge beams and replacing burnt timbers. Although Boram said most of the main wooden arch can be saved, “A very good portion of the truss is going to have to be replaced.”
The WVDOH originally planned to hire a contractor to restore the historic structure, but instead decided to do the work with local WVDOH crews.
The bridge was built in 1856 by brothers Emmett and Daniel O’Brien and crosses the Buckhannon River near Carrollton. At 140 feet, it is one of the longest surviving covered bridges in West Virginia. The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
West Virginia’s covered bridges were largely built of hemlock and poplar cut on site. In the 1800s these trees were abundant in the state.
Boram hopes to complete restoration work on the bridge by the spring of 2023. The project is expected to cost about $1 million, and is completely funded with federal dollars.