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Fans of covered bridge fear it will fail before it's restored

TOLLESBORO — Residents of northeastern Kentucky are trying to rescue an aging covered bridge they say is at risk of giving out.

Lewis County officials have told residents Thomas Hughes and Steve Hampton that the Cabin Creek Covered Bridge is "next in line for restoration."

"We want to know what that means in a time frame," Hampton said.

The bridge, the county's only covered bridge, had been stabilized by steel braces by the Kentucky Transportation Department until the restoration could be completed. But those braces were damaged by heavy rains in early spring.

Hughes and Hampton are worried the bridge might not survive until the state's restoration.

Hughes said the entire community is concerned about losing the 114-foot single-span bridge, which was built in 1873.

"We are talking about 500 to 600 people in the community who are wanting this fixed," Hughes told The Ledger Independent newspaper in Maysville. "An effort to at least protect it is a start."

Allen Blair, the Transportation Cabinet information officer, said the search is on for funding to restore the bridge.

"These restoration efforts are funded by grants." Blair said. "We continue to look for funding. Cabin Creek is definitely next on the list. I wish I could give everyone a timetable, but I can't."

Blair said engineers on the project are aware of the brace damage.

"We certainly don't want this to evolve from restoration to rebuilding. Plans are in the works to stabilize the bridge as soon as possible," he said.

Blair said he didn't have a cost estimate for the restoration.

The Cabin Creek Covered Bridge was closed to traffic in 1983. It is also known as the Rectorville Bridge or the Mackey-Hughes Bridge.