As work progresses on one Jackson County bridge, renovation of another bridge has run into some troubled water.
Because of flooding in the spring and summer, the completion date for the Cavanaugh Bridge in the southwestern corner of the county has been extended. But work is moving along, said Warren Martin, county highway superintendent.
At the Shieldstown Covered Bridge in the center of the county, however, work has been stalled for about eight weeks because nearly 70 percent of the wood the contractor, Duncan Robertson Inc. of Franklin, obtained for the sides of the bridge was rejected. It was not up to national historic preservation standards, Martin said.
Only a couple of pieces of construction equipment and a small stack of boards can be found at the site, and construction gates block each end of the structure.
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Martin said it’s a frustrating situation.
“There are people as far away as Ohio that are covered bridge enthusiasts that are blogging and Facebooking about stuff, ‘Why is this taking so long?’” Martin said.
“This bridge now is exposed to the elements,” he said. “As long as the roof is on it, I don’t have too great of concern. But at this point, if (the contractor) comes back to start on the roof, we would have to probably pull the horns in and say, ‘We’re not going to start this at this time of year.’ We’ve lost too many good days.”
Duncan Robertson has until the end of July to complete the work or it will face a $1,500-per-day fine. Company officials could not be reached for comment Monday.
Earlier this year, Duncan Robertson received the contract to replace rotten and split timbers on the covered bridge, a 355-foot-long double-span Burr arch truss bridge built by Joseph J. Daniels in 1876. It hasn’t carried vehicular traffic since 1980.
Martin said renovation was supposed to start in April, but Duncan Robertson officials told project manager Brad Isaacs they were having trouble locating enough white oak to begin the work on the floor beams, bracing, arches, chords and posts.
Isaacs is with Janssen & Spaans Engineering Inc. of Indianapolis, which developed the plans for the project. He is responsible for day-to-day project supervision.
Since work began in July, all of the siding has been removed, and some crack sealing of the old wood was done. But that’s about the extent of the work, Martin said.
Among the work that needs to be completed is replacement of the wood beams, redoing the driveways and paved areas, tuckpointing of the old piers in the East Fork White River and replacing the joists under the bridge.
Yellow pine will be used in the supports and rafters of the bridge, which is located five miles west of Seymour and one mile north of U.S. 50 on County Road 200N in Hamilton Township. The siding and battens will be yellow poplar, while the portal siding will be western red cedar. The company also will replace the roof and repair piers and abutments.
Martin said he hopes to see work resume on the $1 million project soon.
“If you have a decent spring and get into the summer, if they would get on the bridge and do what needs to be done, they can get it done,” he said.
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. The Indiana Department of Transportation administers federal money and assures compliance with FHA standards.
“INDOT is working to that end (for work to resume), but it’s not a great deal they say they can do until once they hit the deadline date,” Martin said.
With the Cavanaugh Bridge in Driftwood Township, Martin expects the contractor, E&B Paving of Anderson, to meet its deadline, which recently was extended to May 28.
“The wet spring and then flooding we experienced all along Cavanaugh stayed so high, they just were not able to get into the river or on both sides to do what they needed to do,” Martin said. “That threw us back, so they’ve added 95 days to that schedule, and that extends the completion date.”
The difference with this project is that work has been ongoing throughout the year.
The deck still has to be poured, and guardrails must be installed. Road treatment, stone beds, asphalt and tree plantings are among the other work remaining. Martin said the trees have to be planted this month while they are dormant.
“Once the deck is poured, they can go ahead and get the guardrail and stuff on it,” Martin said. “It just depends on what the weather does in December about how much more of the roadwork they can get done.”
The Cavanaugh Bridge, also known as Bridge 195, is along County Road 550W and spans the Muscatatuck River on the Jackson-Washington county line.
A single-span, pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge, constructed by Lafayette Bridge Co. in Lafayette, had been in place since 1899 but hadn’t been used by traffic since 2005.
“The old iron was deteriorated to the point that it just absolutely wasn’t safe,” Martin said.
The bridge was demolished March 2. The new bridge is about 200 yards upstream and will be 763 feet long, Martin said. It will look similar to Bridge 288 at Rockford, which was constructed by E&B Paving and opened in the fall of 2014.
The company is being paid $2,386,500 for removing and replacing the Cavanaugh Bridge, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The federal government funds 80 percent of the cost of replacing federal bridges, while the county pays the remaining 20 percent.