Edie Olds, Kelli Keins, and Christie Raber, Wood County Historical Society director, walk across the Linwood Road pedestrian bridge.
BOWLING GREEN - The recent re-opening of the Linwood Road pedestrian bridge is bringing new possibilities to the Wood County Historical Center.
"This bridge is really important because the museum is comprised of 51 acres; roughly 20 acres are on the south side of the river, and we've never been able to do anything back there on that property, because we don't have access to it," said Christie Raber, director of the Wood County Historical Center and Museum.
Several years ago a 50-year, long-range site plan was put together for the center. Recommendations included using the property on the east side of the Linwood bridge that spans the north branch of the Portage River, Ms. Raber said.
Plans are to "re-create some agricultural buildings that would be made in the style of historic buildings here, particularly barns," she said.
"Ultimately, we would like to have farming demonstrations. We want that to be our agricultural area, because agriculture was so important to the development of Wood County and still is. You can't talk about Wood County without talking about agriculture," Ms. Raber said.
She said the footbridge project is moving the center a step closer to realizing its plan.
The once dilapidated bridge had been closed to vehicular traffic for years, and was dismantled and closed to pedestrians about three years ago after Wood
County Engineer Ray Huber inspected it.
"I noticed holes in the deck, and I could just see a little kid or an adult stepping into one of those holes or breaking a leg, and that's a liability to the county," Mr. Huber said.
He told the historical society and the park district that a choice had to be made, "either we're going to put a new deck on this thing ... or tear it out completely to get rid of the liability for the county. I was very pleased that they all agreed to that, and now we have an asset that is good for the entire community."
Ms. Raber said the $15,000 to $16,000 project is a collaborative effort funded by the historical center, the county's park district, and its engineer's office.
County workers put new timber decking, reinforced or replaced some of the bridge's deteriorated steel skeleton, and painted the 40-foot bridge a deep green.
"I was just amazed at the quality of the construction. The boards are very even. It's something I would love to find on my deck," Linwood Road resident Jacki Masar said.
Aaron Knueven and Chris Woessner, both Bowling Green High School students, organized and built six cedar benches and flower boxes as part of their requirements to earn their Eagle Scout badges.
Wayne St. Clair, a maintenance worker for the historical center, used scrap wood from the benches to build two smaller flower boxes that beautify the north entrance of the bridge. The boxes are filled with different colored pansies.
"People stop me on the street and say it's great," Mr. Huber said.
There are plans to lay grass seed around the bridge to replace what was disturbed during construction and to put down an asphalt approach leading to the bridge, he said.
Ms. Masar said she is pleased the bridge has been rebuilt for walkers. In 2002, Linwood Road residents, including Ms. Masar, fought a proposal by then-County Engineer Tony Allion to extend Dunbridge Road from U.S. 6 about a quarter-mile south to Linwood Road and build a bridge on the new extension over the Portage.
The old Linwood bridge would then have been converted to a pedestrian bridge. Residents complained the $400,000 project was too costly and would generate too much traffic in their quiet rural neighborhood. The idea was abandoned.
"That whole issue has not been resurrected," Mr. Huber said.
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