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Conway board votes to open historic bridge

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Burkeville Covered Brigde in Conway.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Burkeville Covered Brigde in Conway.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Burkeville Covered Brigde in Conway.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Burkeville Covered Brigde in Conway.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Burkeville Covered Brigde in Conway.
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Burkeville Covered Brigde in Conway.

CONWAY — The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted on Monday to open the Burkeville Covered Bridge for the first time in 28 years to two-way vehicle traffic.

The 1871 historic bridge connects Route 116 to Orchard Street and Main Poland Road across the South River.

The board’s decision follows the recommendation from the police chief and highway superintendent and the blessing from the state Department of Transportation in July.

Before the bridge officially opens to traffic, Selectboard Chairman John O’Rourke said he’d like the town Historical Commission to have a ceremony on the bridge.

Chairman of the Historical Commission, Sarah Williams, said no date is set yet for a ceremony.

O’Rourke did not have a specific opening date in mind. He said the police chief and highway superintendent would determine the speed limit.

“I’m very gratified to see the decades of effort by so many townspeople finally reach its objective,” Williams said.

Williams said reopening of the bridge will help preserve the town’s rural character.

“The Historical Commission believes that the town can successfully safeguard the substantial public investment in the historic structure, while continuing its useful life as a bridge,” Williams said.

In 1985, the state closed the bridge due to structural deficiencies. Later in 2003, the town invested $1 million in state and federal money to renovate the structure and the kingrod covered bridge received new steel rails to support the original wooden framework.

Yet, when the work was finished in 2006, the state advised the bridge stay closed to vehicle traffic due to the bridge’s lack of steel and crash-tested guardrails.

Despite that, in 2006, the town voted to have the Historical Commission push to re-open the bridge. Over the years, the commission continued to lobby for the bridge’s reopening.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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