Dresden suspension bridge likely to be demolished as costs to save skyrocket – Y-City News
At a virtual town hall Monday afternoon, the fate of a century-old bridge in northern Muskingum County was likely sealed for good.
Its existence on the National Register of Historic Places won’t help the structure, which has fallen into disrepair as state officials have mostly abandoned it over the years.
Public outcry saved Dresden’s historic suspension bridge in the late 1980s, prompting the construction of the current bridge to the north of the structure, but projected multi-million costs for restoration mean the iconic feature could soon disappear for good.
Nearly two dozen officials and individuals gathered to discuss the harsh reality on Monday, which left some disappointed at how once again a rural county was ignored and a historic bridge was left to rust while structures in more populated counties were saved.
Built in 1914, the Dresden Suspension Bridge replaced an earlier structure that was wiped out in the historic 1913 flood that wreaked havoc not only in Muskingum County, but large parts of Ohio.
According to officials, the three-span suspension bridge is actually quite rare, a unique type of construction that has never gained great popularity in the world.
Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) staff and officials explained the stark reality. To bring the bridge up to standard that would allow pedestrian traffic, it would likely cost upwards of $6 million, to tear it down, as little as $1 million. This multimillion-dollar investment would also not guarantee long-term longevity to maintain the structure in the latter part of the century.
The agency has offered the county the chance to take over the bridge, but it’s an empty invitation. As previously reported by Y-City NewsMuskingum County is already disproportionately underfunded by state officials for road and bridge projects, it would be nearly impossible to undertake a multi-million dollar bridge project.
Unlike other historic bridges that have the option of being redeveloped into crosswalks and cycle paths, the suspension bridge does not connect such divisions.
If the Muskingum Recreation Trail were expanded, it would head north along an old rail line to Trinway, west to Frazeysburg and eventually connect to the Panhandle Trail in eastern County Licking with connections throughout central Ohio. There are also no towns or destinations within walking distance east of Dresden, the bridge might justify an economic investment to connect.
Either way, those in Dresden feel bureaucrats have once again ignored rural Ohio. Dresden Mayor Greg Morrison said so, quite vocally, during the meeting.
“Why was nothing ever done after it was painted in the 90s,” Morrison asked ODOT officials. “If this historic bridge was in Columbus, would it have been left to deteriorate?”
For other officials, like County Commissioners Jim Porter and Cindy Cameron, as well as County Engineer Mark Eicher, they would rather see the funds used on bridges that need money and attention, used daily by local citizens, such as the Gaysport Bridge in southern Muskingum County. which is currently closed due to structural issues.
Dresden’s suspension bridge is also at a point where it cannot simply be left sitting and deteriorating further, with vehicles and pedestrians having to pass under the structure, which has alarming skeletal problems, to get to Dresden’s river park. , ODOT officials would like to know what to do with the bridge as soon as possible before a piece falls off and injures or kills someone.
Tri-Valley Superintendent Mark Neal also raised an alarming observation that children, as well as adults, often sneak onto the bridge and walk even though it is closed to the public. With many holes in the office, someone could be seriously injured.
“We’ve seen kids talking about it and I guess that’s our biggest fear,” Neal added.
ODOT will be accepting public comments on this until Friday, February 25. If the bridge were to be demolished, officials said it would be possible to save parts of it for display as a memorial to the century-old structure.