Hune Bridge may be relocated

The currently closed Hune Covered Bridge in Lawrence Township has both short and long-term prospects.

Following the Frontier Local Economic Development Association meeting last week, options are being discussed by business owners, county officials and state representatives.

“We had a number of people at the meeting from the bridge area there that we’ve not seen before and that was great,” said FLEDA President Jack Haessly. “And to have those residents alongside our county engineer helped us to further the discussion about what the people want for that historic structure.”

The bridge, built in 1879, was already a cause for concern throughout 2019, according to county engineer Roger Wright, before its closure on Jan. 7 due to a landslip.

“We’ve been monitoring it and inspecting it monthly,” said Wright. “And after I met with FLEDA and the Lower Muskingum Watershed Association in September, I went ahead and got an application into (Ohio) Sen. Frank Hoagland’s office for the next capital bill.”

Hoagland confirmed Monday he had reviewed the application and would be advocating for the long-term prospect of moving the bridge with a combination of state and county funds.

Wright’s application offered from the county engineering budget $280,000 toward the removal of the bridge to a new location for historic preservation, asking the state for $420,000 to complete the move.

“But we’ve had almost 60 requests for that bill,” said Hoagland. “I’ll go raise hell and get as much money as I can for the district… but projects have a higher chance of success when they have more skin in the game like this.”

In the short-term, Wright said, additional inspection and hydraulic study is underway for the bridge for review in mid-summer.

“We have the expert in the state, Ron Maddox, not only going to inspect and provide us with ideas for temporary repairs to try and get it open, but also to help augment our inspection schedule and do a hydraulic analysis for what the cost would be to replace the bridge,” said Wright. “Costs of temporary repairs of the pier we may know by the time the Ohio Public Works Commission’s emergency funding comes back open in July.”

Wright said he’d next look to coordinate a meeting within Lawrence Township this summer with residents surrounding the crossing and the Lower Muskingum Watershed Association.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

What’s next:

• Inspection of the Hune Covered Bridge to produce cost estimates for temporary repairs.

• Hydraulic study to consider costs of constructing a new crossing over the Little Muskingum River between Ohio 26 and Duff Road.

• Summer meeting with local residents in Lawrence Township.

Source: Washington County Engineer Roger Wright.