It wasn’t the high wind and not the massive rainfall but a pickup truck with a backhoe in tow that damaged the West Cornwall Covered Bridge on Friday, December 23. The bridge had to be closed. The first prognosis on site given by volunteer firefighters the Chronicle spoke to sounded rather pessimistic. First Selectman Gordon Ridgway later gave another early assessment of the “heavy damage”. He predicted, it “will be closed for a while”. We will have updates as soon as they become available.
It was only in July 2021 that the historic structure was hit the last time and in a similar fashion by a pickup truck pulling a backhoe. The excavator boom collided with the top of the wooden span which needed to be repaired. On that occasion, traffic was allowed back through after the debris had been cleared away. And the state, who owns the bridge, fixed what was broken within a few night sessions which did not interrupt traffic much.
A witness who saw Friday’s incident characterized the driver’s behavior as reckless, “barreling down with too much speed” on Route 128 coming into the village. The damage to the beams was extensive. The vehicle went all the way through to the Sharon side and wrecked everything in its way. The bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Throughout its history, it has been through a series of disasters be it flooding (in 1938 and 1955) or an ice jam (in 1961). It also suffered in 1945 after a 20-ton oil truck fell through the bridge floor.
Photo Credit: Juergen Kalwa