NEVADA COUNTY (CBS13) - A cherished piece of California history is about to get a multi-million dollar upgrade. The state will carve out more than $4.1 million to repair the Bridgeport Covered Bridge just Northwest of Nevada City.
"It's not only a Nevada County treasure, but it's a California treasure," said Matt Green, Chief Ranger with California State Parks, Sierra District. "It's a piece of our history."
It's been closed to visitors since 2011 after park officials noticed the bridge was twisting and warping.
"All over the world and they come to see this bridge and they're so disappointed because all they can do is look through a cyclone fence," said Doug Moon, the chairman of the Save Our Bridge Committee. "It's the longest single-span covered bridge in the world. And back in the day, it was the only way for miners to cross the river and get to the gold."
Built in 1862, the original architect built the bridge to be adjustable. And every year engineers would re-position its metal rods. But after 155 years, the metal rods can no longer be adjusted.
Green says they'll replace the rods with stainless steel rods and raise the bridge about 18 inches to protect from any future flooding.
"Although they have kept the bridge in place all these years, now this twist is causing timbers to fail and crack. Although it's held up all this time, it just cannot withstand that twisting any longer," Green said.
Longtime locals like Cathy Gaughan believe reconstructing their piece of history can't start soon enough.
"I'm happy they're going to repair it and I like that they're making it accessible to the public," Gaughan said. "We had a lot of good memories down here."
Construction is expected to start next summer, but visitors will still have to wait to enjoy the bridge. Repairing such a unique structure will take a whole year. The bridge will then re-open in 2019.
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