- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

BEND, Ore. (AP) - The 13 residents of a neighborhood north of Bend say they’ll be on the hook to rebuild the covered bridge to their homes unless officers can find the driver whose vehicle was taller than the 7 ½-foot clearance.

The privately owned wooden structure was damaged beyond repair over the weekend.

The driver left behind scrapes of red paint, but Deputy Joshua Westfall of the Deschutes County sheriff’s department said there were no immediate suspects.

Although it’s not as old as some of Oregon’s noted covered bridges - built in 1963 - the Swalley Canal Bridge is the only one east of the Cascades recognized by the Covered Bridge Society of Oregon, The Bulletin newspaper of Bend (https://bit.ly/1yaFEZn) reported.

It’s used by many around the area as a shortcut across the stream, saving a roundabout drive of 2 miles more, and it’s been damaged before, to the tune of $15,000 to $25,000 in repairs.

Only once, say residents of the Rock O’ The Range neighborhood, has the culprit been located, and an insurance claim been processed.

That was when a driver got stuck in the low clearance. Residents hope they won’t have to shell out thousands of dollars each this time to fix it, and they say they may have to hit up others nearby who also use the bridge.

“We need to figure out who did this,” said resident Toby Bayard. “We’re just devastated. . It’s kind of a hallmark of our neighborhood.”

The bridge is west of U.S. 97 on Bowery Lane, a local access road that does not meet standards to be maintained by the county road department.

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Information from: The Bulletin, https://www.bendbulletin.com

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