Repairs to begin next month on Long Grove covered bridge
Repairs are expected to begin next month on downtown Long Grove's landmark one-lane covered bridge, which was heavily damaged after a truck plowed into it about a year ago.
Still to be decided is the matter of a replacement cover. In July, the village board is scheduled to select between a new wooden cover exactly like the damaged roof that would be completely paid through an insurance claim, or a steel version carrying an extra charge of up to $60,000.
Long Grove village board trustees this week approved a $747,903 contract with Alliance Contractors Inc. of Woodstock to handle concrete abutment replacement and painting for the Robert Parker Coffin Road bridge. Village Manager David Lothspeich said the bridge work is to start after July 4 and occur while Coffin Road is shut west of Old McHenry Road for previously scheduled upgrades.
Long Grove likely will receive a $250,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, along with a possible $76,000 donation from the village's privately operated historical society, to defray the bridge expenses, Lothspeich said Friday. The village already has about $297,000 in a special bridge fund.
"It should be all completed by Thanksgiving," Lothspeich said.
Trustee Michael Sarlitto, who voted against the $747,903 contact for the bridge work, said he did so because he's not satisfied there is a financial plan to pay for it. He stressed he's not against preserving the covered bridge.
"I am not going to put taxpayers' money at risk and I am not going to put the village's money at risk," Sarlitto said.
Two weeks after landing on the National Register of Historic Places, the one-lane Coffin Road covered bridge was hit by a rented box truck on June 27, 2018. It was closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic for more than two months as a result.
Minus its timber cover, the bridge reopened to traffic in mid-September. Vertical wooden posts and two horizontal beams were installed to serve as temporary clearance bars on the height- and weight-restricted span over Buffalo Creek.
Constructed in 1906 by the Joliet Bridge and Iron Co., the downtown Long Grove bridge is a rare surviving example of a pin-connected pony truss bridge built for an urban setting, according to documents submitted by for the national landmark process. The cover was added in 1972 to help preserve the bridge and limit traffic from trucks and other heavy vehicles.
Despite the history, the bridge's future wasn't guaranteed. Citing the covered bridge's poor condition, Long Grove officials started exploring options in 2014 on whether to renovate or replace it with a one- or two-lane span at the western entry to downtown.
Long Grove Historical Society member Aaron Underwood and Ryan Messner, vice chairman of the Downtown Long Grove Business Association's executive committee, were part of a team that worked to get the bridge on the National Register of Historic Places. They also were part of a fundraising campaign to save the bridge.
Messner said the village's financial commitment to the bridge is the outcome he and others expected after it achieved landmark status. He said the refurbished bridge will be a piece of the downtown's rejuvenation, along with reconstructed roads, decorative lighting and other improvements.
"I'm excited about where we're headed toward the last part of the year," Messner said.