History of the Covered Bridge
The single entrance to Mills Riverside Park is a rustic, covered bridge. Using old barn boards and timber, Mert and Grace Mills created this structure in 1967 to span the Browns River and offer access to their summer campground. Some years later, in 1999, this spectacular property was sold and transformed into a community park. The covered bridge continues to serve its purpose as a welcoming entrance for all park visitors. Over these twenty-two years, the bridge has suffered from high water events that scoured an abutment, a relentless, westerly wind that caused a decided lean to the east, weakening sidewalls and a roof that demanded additional support, a new deck, and more. The Jericho Underhill Park District (JUPD) has been responsible for maintaining this essential structure. Past annual budgets included some bridge funding with a goal of setting aside $100,000 for an expected, partial reconstruction limited to the walls and roof. However, after a careful evaluation, the firm Engineering Ventures (EV) determined that much more was needed.
Engineering Ventures spent a number of months examining the covered bridge and found that, besides the walls and roof, the abutments (or foundation) also needed to be replaced. EV writes, “Obvious drainage problems have resulted in cracking, spalling and organic growth at the concrete surface of abutments---problems which only further compromise the structure by increasing its exposure to water and the damaging effects of the freeze-thaw cycles.” Exchanging the old abutments for new ones adds significantly to the complexity of the reconstruction work and to the cost. Instead of the previously planned $100,000, JUPD is now looking at substantially more. As a result, the extensive reconstruction project will to divided into three main phases while simultaneously balancing the needs of our park visitors for access.