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February 17, 2009

County to restore historic bridge

After several years of delays, the plan to restore Clarkson Covered Bridge is moving forward once more.

The Cullman County Commission approved a proposal with Almon Associates of Birmingham for an engineering study on the bridge during their regular meeting Wednesday. The commission also approved an extension of an agreement with the state of Alabama until 2011 for a $400,000 grant to restore the bridge.

In all, the commission has $750,000 in grants for the restoration as well as approximately $160,000 set aside for matching funds.

“The grants were made available in 2001,” said Commission Chairman James Graves. “The matching funds have been set aside for a long time.”

Graves said the bridge is in desperate need of repair.

“Part of the problem is a lot of the wood is rotting,” he said.

Graves said the project was delayed not long after the grants were acquired due to conflicts between the county commission and the county park and recreation board.

“The grants weren’t used,” Graves said. “Finally now, the board has been done away with and the commission is back in charge of the parks.”

The restoration was delayed further when the project’s original engineer became seriously ill and could not do the work.

“Now we have to turn around and do it again with a different engineer,” Graves said. “They’ll do estimates and drawings of the bridge.”

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Clarkson Covered Bridge was constructed in 1904. At 270 feet in length, it is the only remaining covered bridge in Cullman County.

“It’s a historical treasure,” Graves said. “There’s not that many of those old wood bridges anymore. We need to maintain it for posterity for our kids and grandkids.”

Graves said he was confident the restoration process would be completed by the 2011 deadline.

“It will definitely be done this time ... and it will be better than ever,” he said.



‰ Patrick McCreless can be reached by e-mail at patrickm@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.

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