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Conway to celebrate reopening of covered bridge Sunday afternoon

The Burkeville Covered Bridge in Conway will be the site of a celebration of reopening the bridge to vehicular traffic at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
(Recorder file photo)

The Burkeville Covered Bridge in Conway will be the site of a celebration of reopening the bridge to vehicular traffic at 2 p.m. on Sunday. (Recorder file photo)

CONWAY — On Sunday , the town will celebrate the reopening to motor vehicle traffic of the historic Burkeville Covered Bridge on Main Poland Road.

The Selectboard and Historical Commission are holding a formal reopening celebration on that date at 2 p.m. at the bridge.

A horse-powered vehicle will be the first to cross the bridge — it connects Route 116 to Orchard Street and Main Poland Road across the South River — since it was closed to traffic in 1985.

Since repairs were completed seven years ago, the bridge has been closed to vehicles but accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists and equestrians.

Selectboard Chairman John O’Rourke will host the event.

The 1871 historic Howe Truss bridge is one of three original 19th-century covered bridges remaining in the state.

This July, the state Department of Transportation informed the town it was the town’s decision whether it wanted to open the bridge to traffic.

After consulting the police chief and highway superintendent, the Selectboard recently voted to open the bridge to vehicle traffic for the first time in 28 years.

The bridge was closed by the state due to structural deficiencies. In 2003, the town invested $1 million in state and federal money to renovate the structure. But 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.

However, the town continued to push for the bridge’s re-opening and voted to have the Historical Commission lobby for it.

Rain date is Nov. 24 at 2 p.m.

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

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