Over a month ago, we had an opportunity to take a look at the restoration of the Piano Bridge, located over the East Navidad River near Dublina in Fayette County, Texas, with Julie Bowers, who was at the scene of the whole process, which started in the middle of November.
On Monday, the bridge was reopened to traffic for the first time since it was closed in 2010. After taking the superstructure apart, doing some sandblasting on some parts, replacing some joints, and finally painted the entire structure, the bridge was reassembled, placed onto new foundations and was given a new decking to allow cars weighing up to eight tons to cross the bridge. Looking at the bridge after its complete refurbishing job, its appearance is similar to the bridge when it was first open to traffic in 1885, especially with the new railings and the new foundations it is sitting on. Over 60 people attended the dedication ceremony, marked by a Ford Model T crossing the structure with other cars later following.
Julie Bowers is currently working on a movie, documenting the whole reconstruction process, which will be used for other bridge projects that are in the making. Among them is the Cascade Bridge in Burlington, Iowa, which is a target of preservation efforts by the locals with help from the Iowa Department of Transportation. More on the bridge and the movie will come in separate entries of the Chronicles as soon as information is available.
In the meantime, the state of Texas now has another (fully restored) historic bridge to take pride in, after months of hard work. There is hope that other groups, whose bridges are threatened with replacement, will look at this King Bridge structure and the documentary and photos of the whole project and use this as a frame of reference to restore their own structure; especially as it is much more affordable than replacing the structure outright and throwing away its history in the process.