Local leaders have big plans for Newton Falls bridge

Local News

NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – Some local leaders say they have a plan to make a Newton Falls bridge better, and they hope to put that plan into motion.

David Lynch of Newton Falls showed off a painting of the West Branch Bridge from 1926, which is the same one that lies along State Route 534.

He says, when the picture was made, the bridge was almost 100 years old.

“And you can see, it’s a covered bridge made out of a wooden structure. Some of you while looking would say it looks unfamiliar,” Lynch said.

He says the bridge was torn down in 1946.

Today, there are still some of the old remains from the tower that stood next to it, and he says it all leads into his main point about making the bridge, as it stands now, back into a covered bridge.

“And we’ll cover the existing structure. We’re not removing the existing structure. It’s going to be a canopy. This will be an enclosure over the existing structure,” said Kevin Grippi, part of Smolden Engineering, who is leading the project.

They have built many of the covered bridges in Ashtabula County.

Grippi claims this will help Newton Falls’ economy, like Ashtabula County.

“Now, they just come on holidays and weekends. They come all the time, and the average tourist spends $100 upon every visit,” Grippi said.

The bridge will be the width of four lanes with a 16′ 3/4″ vehicle clearance and an 8-foot wide street-level walkway.

The proposed bridge will have features like:

  • A 15-foot wide upper level walkway and vegetative roof with irrigated flower beds
  • Hydro-electricity generated from the river
  • Eight water falls coming from the top of the canopy
  • Robin’s egg blue wood exterior, white trim and silver-colored metal roof
  • A 60-foot high spire with functional clock and weather vane
  • Elevator to upper-level walkway and exposed spiral staircase
  • Ironwork cables for hanging flowerpots and recycling water run-off
  • Second floor skylight and water fountain

Other features include fixed audio and security systems, six observation platforms, bat boxes underneath, fire suppression system and programmable, color-changing lights to illuminate both the exterior and interior.

“As Americans, we want to go places and do things. We just don’t want to go to places and look at things, so this will be almost an interactive sort of structure,” said Grippi.

According to Grippi, this Covered Bridge will cost about $2.5 million. They plan to pay for it by grants, private donations and corporate donations.

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