FLEMINGSBURG -- The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has approved $75,000 to temporarily support and stabilize the Dover Covered Bridge in Mason County, officials said Tuesday.
The historic bridge was damaged during torrential rains and flash flooding in late July when thunderstorms dropped more than 7 inches of rain across the region. Lee Creek, which the bridge spans, rose out of its banks and washed away two 12,000-pound steel support beams from under the bridge. Floodwater also shifted its truss off foundations and uprooted blacktop on the road at either end.
Kentucky Department of Highways District 9 engineers immediately closed the structure to all traffic, and conducted damage assessments as contractors recovered the steel beams, officials said.
Working with city, county and other state officials, engineers began seeking funds to stabilize the bridge and protect it from further damage or possible collapse until a full repair project can be developed.
Partnering with the state, the Buffalo Trace Covered Wooden Bridge Authority has advertised for a consultant to provide options to best stabilize the bridge, cost estimates, and technical assistance.
Following the chosen consultant’s recommendation, the now-approved $75,000 in Rural Secondary Road Aid emergency funds will be used for stabilization work –- which will be done as soon as possible.
The Dover Covered Bridge, also known as Lee's Creek Covered Bridge, dates back to as early as 1835 when the 61-foot structure opened as a toll bridge. Renovated by the Bower Bridge Company in 1926 then the Kentucky Highway Department in 1966, it remained largely the same until the late 1980s when the steel support beams were added underneath. It was bypassed in 2005, and is now part of Kentucky 3113, just south of Kentucky 8 near the Ohio River at Dover.
Although open to traffic before the July storm damage, the covered bridge will remain closed to all vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycle traffic until further notice due to safety concerns, officials said.