One of Jackson County’s two covered bridges is about to get a much-needed spruce-up.
Last week, Duncan Robertson Inc. of Franklin was awarded the $1,036,287 refurbishment project of the Shieldstown Covered Bridge, located five miles west of Seymour and one mile north of U.S. 50 on County Road 200N in Hamilton Township.
Tree removal and power line trimming will begin soon before work starts on the bridge after April 1. Work is expected to be complete by the end of July 2016.
The good news is no roads will be closed during construction.
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“That will make it a whole lot nicer,” said Warren Martin, superintendent of the Jackson County Highway Department.
The Indiana Department of Transportation, Jackson County officials, contractor representatives and design engineers came together Wednesday at the INDOT Seymour District office to discuss the preservation project.
Jackson County is the sponsor of the project and will pay 20 percent of the costs, while the Federal Highway Administration will pay the rest. INDOT administers federal money and assures compliance with FHA standards.
Janssen and Spaans Engineering Inc. of Indianapolis developed the engineering plans for the project and is responsible for day-to-day project supervision.
The 355-foot-long Burr arch truss wooden bridge, built by Joseph J. Daniels in 1876, carried vehicular traffic across the East Fork White River until 1980. It will receive a complete makeover.
Duncan Robertson will be in charge of replacing rotten and split timbers. Workers will use white oak for the floor beams, bracing, arches, chords and posts. Yellow pine will be used in supports and rafters. The siding and battens will be yellow poplar, while the portal siding will be western red cedar.
The company will also replace the roof and repair piers and abutments.
In the end, Martin hopes the Shieldstown Covered Bridge will look as nice as the Medora Covered Bridge, which had renovations completed in 2011. Built by Daniels in 1875, the Medora Covered Bridge is the longest historic covered bridge in the nation at 461 feet. It sits along State Road 235.
“We are very excited about getting it done. It’s just time to get it freshened back up,” Martin said. “It will look somewhat like the Medora Covered Bridge once it’s done with approaches on both sides of it and parking areas.”
A visitors parking lot will be constructed near the north end of the bridge. The Jackson County Visitor Center has bike rides and tours that go by the county’s covered bridges, and Martin said work at Shieldstown will help draw people there and make it more accessible.
“The state that it’s in is not conducive for people to find a spot to be able to look at it,” Martin said. “Once we rehab it, that will take care of that problem.”
Jackson County has two covered bridges standing today.
The Medora Covered Bridge was built by Joseph J. Daniels in 1875. At 461 feet, it is the longest historic covered bridge in the United States and is the only triple-span Burr arch truss bridge in the state. It carried vehicle traffic across the East Fork White River until 1972. The bridge, located along State Road 235, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and underwent a $1.3 million restoration project from 2010 to 2011. For information, visit medoracoveredbridge.com.
The Shieldstown Covered Bridge was built by Daniels in 1876. The 355-foot-long Burr arch truss wooden bridge carried traffic across the East Fork White River until 1980. A $1 million refurbishment project will begin at the bridge along County Road 200N between Brownstown and Seymour after April 1.
There are 89 covered bridges in the state.