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Covered bridge closed indefinitely

Published June 17. 2011 05:02PM

The last remaining covered bridge in Carbon County that is utilized by motor vehicles is closed indefinitely.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, Commissioner Charles Getz said that the bridge, which was damaged two weeks ago by Joseph Chiariello of Albrightsville, will remain closed until repairs are made.

Chiariello, who turned himself in to the state police in Lehighton late last week, was driving a larger type of vehicle, which was too tall for the bridge. As he proceeded through the bridge, the vehicle hit a number of beams, snapping them off.

Getz added that the county engineer said the estimated cost for the repairs is $25,000. Repairs include fixing both entrances and replacing a number of beams that were damaged as a result of the vehicle. The board also hopes to reinstall hanging clearance beams before the entrances. Previous clearance beams had been knocked down by tall vehicles and had not been replaced.

The commissioners voted to authorize advertising the project, but no date has been set yet on the bid deadline.

The county has worked to repair and restore the covered bridge since 2008.

In March of that year, the commissioners learned that the structure was in poor condition.

They took immediate action, hiring Stoney Ridge Fabricators, Inc., to weld steel plates over the holes and reweld the steel I-beams, as well as order two 16-foot by 10-foot bridge decking to replace the deteriorated sections.

To alleviate some stress on the bridge, the commissioners voted to lower the weight limit to five tons, or the size of a pickup truck or small van. The new limit became permanent on May 1, 2008 and is still in effect.

Repair work to the bridge was completed and the county began to pursue federal funding through the Transportation Enhancement Act, to restore the bridge's decking and other structural pieces. Former Congressman Paul Kanjorski backed the project, but congress never acted on the matter.

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