Covered Bridge Project


Covered Bridge Project

My name is Craig Roost, and I am a volunteer!

On or about Jan. 20th of this year, I came up with an idea to put a covered bridge on the newly expanded Jefferson Co. Glacial River Bike Trail, which runs parallel to State Hwy. 26, south of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

The following day I went to the public library and found a couple of books on covered bridges. After learning enough about them, I felt confident enough to build one. I previously have worked for a pole building construction company. I knew that building a covered bridge in this county or in this state alone, was a once in a life time opportunity. 

My next step was to contact Joe Nehmer, who is the county parks director. I told him that I wanted to build a covered bridge and that I would volunteer my time to do it. He directed me, (no pun intended) to come up with as much information on the idea and to put together a proposal to the county board. 

I caught Joe and his department, three days before they were going to order the lumber, in order to put a deck and railing system over the old railroad bridge. I spent the next week drawing structural designs, pictures and hunting down material suppliers.

Part of my design calls for the lumber to be reclaimed from old dairy barns. I wanted to build the bridge out of an old barn so that it would have a nostalgic look to it, reduce the cost of materials compared to new lumber, and to reduce, reuse, and recycle. I did not want to be cutting down trees to build this bridge. 

So I went barn hunting. And as luck would have it I found one just around the corner from the bridge site. There were a couple of guys who were dismantling a very large barn. And as I later found out, they were just discussing how, and to whom they were going to sell the lumber to, just before I approached them. It felt like fate had brought me to them. 

I told them about my idea and they were as shocked at the timing as well. The man who had purchased the barn was willing to supply me with all of the needed materials for the project. I was very excited about the possibilities. I was one step closer to my goal. 

I handed in my proposal and the county agreed to support it on the contingent that I come up with half of the additional cost of adding the covered bridge to the nearly completed bike trail. I needed to raise $7,000 before they would allow me to begin construction.

I am currently soliciting funds from local civic groups, corporations, and the public. I am very grateful to the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation who have already generously donated to this project.

The bridge itself will cost just over $26,000. It will be 51 ft. long, with 3 ft. overhangs at both ends, 14ft wide, and have a clearance of about 9ft. It will be a four span bridge with king trusses. I have decided to incorporate a cupola on top to go along with the barn theme, and from a distance the bridge will resemble a train caboose to go with the Rails to Trails history of the site. 

Members of the county parks dept. have told me that an average of 25,000 trail users and 3.1 million motorists will be able to enjoy the bridge on a yearly basis. Some of the benefits of the bridge will be; to protect the supporting structure from the elements, to give shelter to citizens who might get caught in some bad weather while on that section of the trail, and since the bridge would be easily visible from State Hwy. 26, it will bring with it, a lot of positive attention not only to the trail, but also to the Jefferson Co. parks system and the surrounding community. The bridge will also have a historical impact. Not only because it will be made out of an almost 100-year-old barn, but if maintained, it could stand for another 150 years!

I want to thank everybody who has helped me on my quest to build this bridge. I sincerely appreciate it. I hope to give updates on the project as it continues, so look for it in the near future. 

If anyone has questions or comments that I can address please call me at (920) 568-0353. And just remember, when it comes to bridge building, we got it covered!


Contact information

Craig Roost
1226 Talcott St.
Fort Atkinson, WI 53538
(920) 568-0353

Links is a site about covered bridges throughout the world.