West Liberty Street, Geneva. From Interstate 90, take Route 534 north past Route 84; as you enter the City of Geneva, you will go over a railroad crossing with a high grade; bridge will be on the left, behind a car wash.
Narrative from “The Covered Bridges of Ashtabula County” by Carl E. Feather
In early October 2007, Geneva City Manager Jim Pearson announced a plan to build the nation’s shortest covered bridge in his city.
The bridge was to replace a crumbling crossing on West Liberty Street, a stone’s throw from State Route 534. It would be just 18 feet in length and use a single king post, the first modern kingpost timber bridge in the county.
Hailed as the cornerstone of a downtown revitalization plan, the bridge also would be a community effort, with native timber donated from the wood lots of Phil and Cathie Schmidt, William Gubanyar, Dr. Angelo DeVivo. Carpentry students from the Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School (now A-Tech), signed on to fabricate the trusses in the school’s shop and raise the structure over Cowles Creek. Insert image 054
Funding for the project came from the Ohio Public Works commission in the form of a grant and loan. City Manager Pearson told city council members that concrete wall supports for the old bridge were sliding into the creek and the structure had to be replaced. With the state funding, it made sense to construct a timber bridge at the site and create yet another tourist designation. The bridge also would tie Ashtabula County with Fairfield County for the most covered bridges and help Ashtabula truly become the Covered Bridge capital of the Ohio.
John Smolen designed the bridge, which does not have siding except for on the walls of the pedestrian walkways. Although a small bridge in length , it is designed to hold all legal road traffic. That required both a robust support beam and abutments. The latter were built by Ruben Schwartz Construction of Conneaut. Each abutment wall is 3 feet thick and 10 feet tall. The walls are concrete reinforced with rebar, as are the 3-foot deep footers.
“There is a semi-tractor load of rebar in those footers,” Schwartz said in a newspaper interview. “I pity the guy who will have to tear that out. He will have nightmares with that.”
Read more about this bridge, please purchase “The Covered Bridges of Ashtabula County.”