CHARLESTON, WV – Restoration work has begun on the historic Carrollton Covered Bridge in Barbour County, with local West Virginia Division of Highways bridge crews doing the work.
“We’re excited about it,” said District 7 Bridge Engineer Chad Boram, P.E. “We’ve worked on all kinds of bridges, but this is a new experience for us. These folks take pride in what we do.”
The bridge, the third oldest of 17 surviving covered bridge in West Virginia, was badly damaged by a fire in August 2017. The blaze destroyed much of the outer covering of the bridge but left the basic structure mostly intact.
The WVDOH was able to reopen the bridge to traffic in September 2017 after minor repairs to the modern bridge superstructure to ensure the bridge was safe. Consultants then developed plans on how to best restore the structure.
The bridge will be closed to traffic until restoration work is complete.
District 7 bridge crews began restoration work on Monday, July 11, 2022, with a thorough pressure washing. The pressure washing is to remove the old, charred wood to see what parts of the remaining bridge structure can be saved and what parts will have to be replaced.
“We’re running into a few more things than we thought we were going to,” said Tom Shaffer, a consultant with Mead & Hunt who helped with extensive work done to the nearby Philippi Covered Bridge. The WVDOH intends to save as much of the original bridge structure as possible, including filling cracks in otherwise sound timbers with epoxy to extend their life.
The bridge was built in 1856 by brothers Emmett and Daniel O’Brien and crosses the Buckhannon River near Carrollton. At 140 feet, it is one of the longest surviving covered bridges in West Virginia.
Shaffer said 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.
Boram hopes to complete restoration work on the bridge by the spring of 2023. The project is expected to cost about $1 million, and is completely funded with federal dollars.
The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.