By Kristin Rover
The historic covered bridge on Stonelick Williams Corner Road collapsed while construction crews were working on it Feb. 11.
Stonelick Township Fire Chief Matthew Rose said the bridge collapsed onto its right side at approximately 2:30 p.m.
“There were four workers on the bridge,” Rose said. “They made it off before it ended up in the creek.”
Stonelick Township Trustee Kermit Beckworth Jr., said the bridge has been under construction since plans were finalized to rehabilitate the aging bridge.
“As part of the reconstruction, they had taken the sides off,” Beckworth said.
Beckworth said crews had left the roof of the bridge on to keep it covered.
The roof of the bridge is now hanging down, with part of it in the creek below.
“You have a catastrophic failure that occurred,” Beckworth said about the collapse. “Thankfully, no one has been hurt.
Beckworth said he is not sure what will happen next with the bridge.
He said that for residents in the township and the county the bridge has become a special landmark.
“It’s our only remaining covered bridge,” Beckworth said. “I think we’d all like to see it put back, but I don’t know if it is possible.”
Rose said several engineers will be coming to evaluate the bridge tomorrow to try to determine how the bridge collapsed and to determine the next steps.
The bridge which was built in 1878, was placed on the National Register of Historic Property in 1974 for its historic significance in the area of 19th century engineering.
The bridge is a 12-panel Howe Truss construction. It is 140 feet long and 22 feet wide with a 16-foot 5-inch roadway. The overhead clearance is 15.5 feet. The Howe Truss was patented in 1840 and marked an advancement in the process of bridge design because it replaced wooden uprights of previous bridge trusses with iron rods that could be adjusted with nuts and turnbuckles. These iron verticals could be tightened when the bridge began to sag out of line so that it could be straightened again.
The bridge has undergone some rehabilitation in the past. In 1970 the roof was replaced and the bridge seats were repaired. The end posts and the decayed ends of the bottom chords were replaced, new joists and flooring was installed and the entire structure was painted. In 1971 the stone abutments were reinforced with concrete. In 1983, a 22-foot long oak cross beam had to be replaced after a garbage truck broke through the wooden floor.