- Associated Press - Thursday, November 26, 2015

SEYMOUR, Ind. (AP) - Officials are blaming inferior wood obtained by a contractor for the little progress being made on a $1 million preservation project for a 19th century covered bridge in southern Indiana.

Work has been stalled for about two months at the Shieldstown Covered Bridge in rural Jackson County because much of the wood that was to be used to rebuild the sides on the bridge didn’t meet national historic preservation standards, county Highway Superintendent Warren Martin said.

The bridge’s siding was removed and some wood cracks were sealed over the summer, but little else has been done. Construction gates block both entrances of the bridge, The (Seymour) Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1R5iZUX).

Martin said he has heard many questions from covered bridge enthusiasts about why the project is taking so long.

“This bridge now is exposed to the elements,” he said. “As long as the roof is on it, I don’t have too great of concern.”

The bridge was built in 1876 over the East Fork of the White River about five miles west of Seymour. It’s been closed to vehicle traffic since 1980 but remains a tourist attraction. The repair project includes replacement of the bridge’s wood beams, redoing the driveways and paved areas, tuckpointing its piers into the river and replacing the joists under the bridge.

Jackson County is paying 20 percent of the project costs, with the remainder being covered by federal highway grants overseen by the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Martin said he believes the project can still be finished by the August 2016 deadline, after which the contractor could face $1,500-per-day fines.

“If you have a decent spring and get into the summer, if they would get on the bridge and do what needs to be done, they can get it done,” he said.

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Information from: The (Seymour) Tribune, https://www.tribtown.com

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