Bedford County Covered Bridges Need Repairs

By Christian Heilman

Published 08/24 2014 05:57PM

Updated 08/24 2014 11:19PM

BEDFORD, BEDFORD COUNTY -- Bedford County is an historic area for many different things -- including its covered bridges but their maintenance costs has some asking questions.
The Bowser Bridge near Osterburg is going to have renovations totaling nearly $350,000, and it doesn't carry any traffic. That has some people asking: Is it really worth the money?
On a typical weekend afternoon, you can find Jeff and Donna Shaffer on the porch of their 1850's home -- sometimes meeting and greeting the people who come by.
Jeff Shaffer said, "Talked to a guy from Colorado -- he stopped out here and told me about how beautiful Pennsylvania was and I was telling him how beautiful Colorado was."
They live a stone's throw from one of the nine county-owned covered bridges that was built in the 1880s.
Covered bridges are a part of the county's heritage, but that doesn't come without a price. Two of the nine bridges owned by Beford County are up for more than $500,000 in renovations.
Shaffer said, "I don't know if it's worth the money or not."
The total has some people saying it's not. Some posted on our Facebook saying that, “It's a beautiful bridge, however, that's a lot of money that could be used on things more important," and others saying, "What a waste."
The county begs to differ.
Kirt Morris, Chairman, Board of Commissioners in Bedford County, said, "They do cost a lot but I guess what we lose sight of is a regular quote bridge also costs a lot as well."
Dennis Tice, the executive director of the Bedford County Visitor's Bureau, said, "Covered bridges are an iconic part of Bedford County as far as tourism goes."
This bridge is being renovated as part of a Federal Highway Administration grant that is helping a county that has been struggling financially. The other bridge that is being renovated is drivable and can use money from the liquid fuels tax – the tax paid for gas across the state.
Morris said, "Bridge maintenance was put off and we're finding that maybe some of our bridges are taking more than that normal $50,000 or $60,000 to repair because we're trying to catch up."
The county figures that they need to be ready to spend $100,000 per year to keep their nine covered bridges in good condition.
The county says their bridges end up costing more to maintain because they reinforce the bridges with steel beams so emergency vehicles can use them.

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