County officials want to create a haven where visitors can enjoy a restored bridge and the natural beauty surrounding it.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- The upcoming restoration of the Teegarden Centennial Covered Bridge is a common theme for many such bridges, which are being transformed from wrecks to restored reminders of times past.
Resurrection of the Columbiana County bridge also is a dream come true for Betty Bailey of Salem.
For years, Bailey has been troubled by the bridge's steady decay. Located along Eagleton Road in Salem Township, the structure holds special memories for her; she grew up near it and crossed it many times.
"I didn't realize the bridge meant so much to me," Bailey said.
The bridge takes its name from Teegarden, the community that once thrived there, and from the fact that it was constructed in 1876, the centennial anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
After decades of use, the span was retired in 1992 when a modern bridge was built next to it to carry Eagleton Road travelers over Little Beaver Creek.
How it looks: Now open only to pedestrian traffic, the sagging span is showing its age and the ravages of vandals. Planks have been ripped from its sides. Graffiti scars its walls.
"When I noticed how bad it was in 1997, I decided to do something about it," Bailey said.
She founded a society named after the span and dedicated to its restoration. The group lobbied the county to restore the bridge and to keep it in its original spot.
The society landed a willing supporter in county Engineer Bert Dawson, who helped line up funding for the endeavor.
What's planned: Next spring, the county expects to undertake a nearly $320,000 project that will include restoring the bridge and installing nearby parking, picnic tables and, possibly, restrooms.
About $200,000 will come from a federal grant. The state is expected to pitch in about $70,000. The county will spend about $50,000 from its road and bridge fund.
Work is expected to start in the spring and may take about six months to complete.
"I think it's wonderful," Bailey said of the plans.
The span is located in one of Columbiana County's most beautiful spots, a wooded, rocky ravine known as Eagleton's Glen.
About 200 yards from the bridge, Eagleton Road intersects the Greenway Trail, a county-owned, 12-mile-long hike-bike path that stretches from Lisbon to Leetonia.
The county plans to lease Salem Parks Department land adjoining the bridge and install on the property a picnic area and a paved lot with about 24 parking spaces.
The aim is to create a scenic haven where visitors can enjoy the restored bridge and take a ride or hike on the Greenway Trail.
Bailey said she's hopefuI the society can organize a festival based at the bridge in conjunction with Ohio's 2003 bicentennial celebration.