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Photo courtesy W.Va. DOT

DOH completes restoration of historic Carrollton Covered Bridge

CHARLESTON, WV – West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) bridge crews from District 7 have completed restoration of the historic Carrollton Covered Bridge in Barbour County.

The bridge, which spans the Buckhannon River, was badly damaged by a fire in 2017. The WVDOH had originally planned to hire contractors to restore the historic structure, but decided it would be cheaper and faster for WVDOH bridge specialists to do the work themselves.

“I definitely knew our guys were capable of the work,” said District 7 Bridge Engineer Chad Boram, P.E. So District 7 hired a consultant to come up with a plan and WVDOH bridge crews went to work restoring the span.

Restoration work on the bridge began in July 2022 with a complete cleaning and assessment of the bridge to see which of its wooden components could be salvaged and which would need replaced.

The bridge was built in 1856 by brothers Emmett and Daniel O’Brien. At 140 feet, it is one of the longest surviving covered bridges in West Virginia. The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.

West Virginia’s covered bridges were largely built of hemlock and poplar cut on site. In the 1800s these trees were abundant in the state.

However, once they began assessing the damage to the bridge, WVDOH crews discovered that the charred timbers were in worse shape than they had expected.

“From the time it burnt down it sat out in the rain and snow for a couple of years,” Boram said. “It’s hard to tell how bad it is until you get into it.”

In the end, WVDOH crews ended up replacing most of the bridge’s truss work. “That definitely wasn’t in the plan,” Boram said.

But, at times using hammers and chisels, crews repaired the bridge top structure and hung new wooden siding. In May, crews installed a new steel roof, another first for the 10 to 12-person crew.

Contractors must still remove scaffolding erected to work on the bridge and keep debris out of the river, but the Carrollton Covered Bridge is reopen to traffic.

“It’s something all the guys are proud of,” Boram said. In fact, crews did such a good job that they’ll be starting a restoration project on the Walkersville Covered Bridge next year.

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