GAMBIER — A rededication ceremony at the Big Run Bridge, south of Gambier, on Monday morning officially opened the structure for public use as a pedestrian bridge. Conducted by Knox County Engineer Jim Henry, the ceremony was attended by numerous county officials and other interested parties.
Henry introduced Knox County Commissioner Bob Wise who spoke briefly on the efforts of the Mount Vernon Bridge Co. in constructing the bridge in 1915.
“They paid well, they were dedicated to their county and employees, and they worked very hard,” said Wise, adding that he also had family members who worked there. “On behalf of the taxpayers and commissioners, we want to rededicate this bridge to the public.”
Kim Marshall, director of the Knox County Park District, complimented Henry and others involved in pursuing this project.
“When I look at this bridge, I see a recreational opportunity. It gives everyone a chance to relax, sit out on the bridge and enjoy the running water,” said Marshall. “It also provides a stable platform for fishing, and the improved foot path allows better access to the river for kayaking and canoeing. This all boosts tourism, which boosts area business.”
Jim Gibson, director of the Knox County Historical Museum, shared some historical information about Knox County and how it relates to the construction of the bridge.
“The Mount Vernon Bridge Company’s iron and steel structures span many Ohio rivers with other structures scattered across the state as well. These all reflect great skill. While many bridges are disappearing, our elected officials and keepers of the environment have seen to it to restore this historic bridge,” said Gibson.
The bridge was originally used for vehicle use and closed in 1996 with Big Run Road rerouted east of the bridge. The rehabilitation project was performed by the U.S. Bridge Co. of Cambridge at a cost of approximately $817,000, according to Henry, with most of the funds coming from the Federal Enhancement Program. “Not a lot of local budget was involved,” said Henry.