Bridge Update 2023
The Jericho Underhill Park District (JUPD) has been focused on the only public entrance to Mills Riverside Park, our bridge. Following the advice of engineers, the “covered” portion of the bridge was removed in November 2021 and safety rails installed at a cost of $36,000. The concern was the roof’s integrity, especially with a snow load going into winter. The expectation was that the “covered” portion would be rebuilt subject to funding. As the months rolled on, complications multiplied. According to an engineering study, the abutments were not sufficient to support new walls and a roof for many years. They would need to be rebuilt at an estimated cost of over $300,000. State requirements for abutment replacement would also probably require the Park District to relocate the abutments and expand the length of the bridge considerably. This would necessitate a new deck. All of this work would shut the park down for community enjoyment for at least four months unless an alternative bridge was built across the Browns River. This temporary span had an estimated cost of $62,000. The more information that the Park District received, the more we realized that the cost to replace the “covered” portion of our bridge, and therefore, the abutments and a new deck, was just too expensive. The decision was made to not rebuild the covered bridge at this time. The existing abutments are sufficient to support the newer deck and side rails for pedestrian traffic and occasional light vehicular use. The park’s popularity continues to grow year to year with over 370 visitors per day using this vital span during the warmer months. At some future point, we certainly hope to add the special entry to Mills Riverside Park that only a covered bridge can bring.