APPLEGATE VALLEY, Ore. — “We’re so happy to see one out here in Oregon getting repaired,” said president of the McKee Bridge Historical Society, Robert Van Heuit as he read comments left by some of the six thousand annual visitors to the McKee Covered Bridge over the Applegate River.
The state’s highest, and fourth oldest covered bridge is the pride of the area’s residents who have come together before when repairs were needed.
“The roof was in bad shape, the siding was starting to fall off, and local came in, raised the money, and did all of the work,” said Van Heuit.
That was more than twenty years ago. In need of drastic new repairs, the historical society, along with the county, teamed up and secured a grant worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The bridge work was set to go to bid, until the final projection came in this month.
“The engineer’s estimate is about $20,000 more than the total amount of funds available,” said Van Heuit.
Now, an additional grant through the Oregon Department of Transportation is in the works, and county engineers said it should be the last piece needed to fix a list of problems.
“Severe structural issues with the bridge, most notably some severe rot in the bottom cord of the north truss,” said Jackson County Engineer Mike Kuntz
Tens of thousands of dollars have been raised by the bridge’s historical society and Van Huit said their support will keep the bridge standing.
“Some things like that keep us going,” said Van Heuit.
Jackson County officials said they’ll know where they stand with the grant in the coming weeks.