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Bridge project uncovered

Newton Falls village manager David Lynch revealed an idea Monday for a proposed $2.5 million covered bridge on state Route 534 in the village’s downtown. Smolen Engineering officials explained that it could have features such as an upper-level walkway, waterfall features and the ability to hold private events. Lynch is looking into finding state and federal grants to cover the cost before bringing the plan to council.

NEWTON FALLS — In what may possibly be one of his last public events as village manager, David Lynch unveiled plans Monday for a proposed $2.5 million covered bridge to be located off state Route 534 at the site of a former timber bridge.

More than 50 people, including village employees, local residents and representatives of the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office, attended the news conference where renderings of the proposed light-blue colored and skylit covered bridge were shown.

“Great projects start from an idea. Someone had to think about the Hoover Dam or the Lincoln Memorial or the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima. We have a very exciting idea for Newton Falls that will eventually end up on the floor of city council,” Lynch said.

He proposed a new covered bridge to go over and cover the current bridge by Veterans Park near Shop ‘n Save. Lynch said until it was taken down in 1946, there was a covered bridge located there.

He said the village has a good track record of getting state funds, loans and grants for various infrastructure projects.

While Lynch is continuing his duties as village manager, council has called a special meeting for 6 p.m. Thursday for an executive session to discuss, and possibly act on, the termination of Lynch’s contract. Action may or may not be taken after the executive session.

Kevin Grippi, project manager with Smolen Engineering, which has done covered bridges and other bridge projects in Ashtabula County — which has more covered bridges than any other Ohio county — said they are a draw for tourists and sightseers.

Proposed for Newton Falls is a timber-enclosed bridge of 200-by-75 feet of four lanes in width, more than 16 feet high for vehicle clearance, and 8-foot-wide street level walkway.

Grippi said the bridge would have “one-of-a-kind features” such as wood exterior, white trim, and silver-colored metal roof, 15-foot-wide upper level observation walkway above the lanes of traffic, 60-foot-high spire with a clock and weather vane, elevator to upper level walkway, and spiral staircase. Also proposed is a vegetation roof with irrigated flower beds, area for hanging flower pots, water fountain, eight integrated waterfalls cascading from the top of the canopy along both sides of the bridge, observation platforms, bat boxes under the bridge, programmable color-changing lights to illuminate the exterior and interior, and internal skylight support feature,

Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith said he has worked with Smolen Engineering on several other projects involving covered bridges and the company has done great work.

Lynch said the project would be covered by grants, donations and corporate sponsors.

Some residents at the meeting asked why the village should focus on another covered bridge when the village already has an historic one and also has an historic community center at the park that needs work.

Lynch said Heritage Accord group, which is working on the community center improvements, also is seeking grants for that structure.

Grippi said such a covered bridge would enhance the community, along with the lit water tower, the summer fireworks and other attractions.

“Some people will love this idea; some will warm up to it; some might not like it right away. This can be a destination bucket-list attraction for people to see. This existing covered bridge is already on many people’s list to see. They come to town and like to see it. This is a bridge that will be one-of-a-kind and not be like any other with observation decks, lighting and waterfall,” Lynch said,

Grippi said people like to come and see covered bridges during all seasons of the year and also stop at local restaurants and wineries.

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