Planning for the project began in 1995 when annual bridge inspection showed severe deterioration of the existing bridge. John Smolen was as much concerned about improvements to the road alignment as he was to the replacement of deficient bridge. Preliminary engineering of the road realignment left a 600 foot hole to span.
Federal Bridge dollars were applied for and received 2000 in the amount of $5 million. From 2001 to 2005 plans and specifications were developed, environmental studies and documents were prepared, additional road right-of-way was secured, wetland mitigation was completed, EPA and Army Corp of Engineer Permits were obtained. Construction began in mid summer 2006 with land clearing and earthwork.
From August 2006 to July 2007 171,000 Cubic Yards of earth was moved into place. The bridge piers and abutments comprised 7,000,000
pounds of concrete and nearly one half a million pounds of steel reinforcement. The timber structure used 51,000 cubic feet of lumber or 613,000 board feet. Enough to cover an entire football field 13″ thick. County highway and bridge crews constructed the block retaining wall, performed seeding and mulching, installed storm drainage and other various construction components. The Bridge is the longest in the United States at 613 feet.
It boasts a clear width of 30 feet, a clear height of 14′ 6″ and stands some 93 feet above the waters surface. The bridge will support full legal loads including 80,000 pound tractor trailer traffic and has a life expectancy of over 100 years. Bridge truss is a modified Pratt design.This covered bridge is named Smolen-Gulf Bridge, Ashtabula County Highway #25.Total cost is 8 million, 5 million federal bridge dollars, 1 million from Ohio Public Works Commission and the remainder from local road and bridge funds.
A note card of this bridge can be purchased in our store.