The Union Covered Bridge, which is undergoing major renovations, had five of six supports wash away in the rapidly rising waters of the Elk Fork of the Salt River on Monday.
Rising waters battered a construction project at a historic landmark in Monroe County this week.
The Union Covered Bridge, which is undergoing major renovations, had five of six supports being used in a refurbishing project wash away in the rapidly rising waters of the Elk Fork of the Salt River on Monday.
The good news is there is no damage to the bridge structure, according to Mike Martin, co-owner of Martin General Contractors of Eolia, Mo., which has the contract to restore the bridge.
Workers spent a week earlier this month removing all the boards from historic bridge. Each board will be refinished and placed back on the bridge. It has been nearly 30 years since the last refurbishing of the bridge, which is operated by Missouri State Parks.
Martin said that his company is also realigning the bridge and restoring the arch in the bridge. The six supports help accomplish that task, which does not impact the bridge structure.
“The storm did not do any damage to the bridge itself,” Martin said. “People are worried when the word support is used, but those are used for the realignment and restoring the arch. All that has happened now is the bridge is back to its state” before the company started the work.
News of the rising water spread quickly. There have been hundreds of Facebook and other social media postings about the bridge this week, complete with photos and video.
“The Union Covered Bridge near Paris, Missouri is under assault from rising waters on the Elk Fork arm of Salt River,” read one post on Monday.
Another read: “I've taken several families to this bridge for photo shoots!!!! :I Hope it withstands the flooding!!!”
The bridge was built in 1871 and is only one of four remaining covered bridges in Missouri. It is one of the four remaining covered bridges that represent the Burr-arch truss design. Martin General Contractors of Eolia, Mo., is the restoration contractor.
The good news is that the bridge is still standing, despite losing five of its six support piers erected for the restoration project.
Jim Rehard, district supervisor for the Northern Missouri Historic District, said that state officials and contractors are determining the scope of the damage.
“Contractors are trying to figure how to rebuild the … support timbers,” Rehard said late Wednesday, adding that the water was still too high to determine the exact scope of repairs. “The water level continues to drop…but not to the point needed.”
He said that the projected May 18 completion of the restoration of the bridge will likely be delayed for 30 days.