Bridge dedicated to former county engineer

By Debra Gaskill Special Correspondent

May 9, 2014

YELLOW SPRINGS — A new bridge opened here Friday, one that speaks to the past, promises to be a part of future economic success and remembers the contribution of a former Greene County Engineer.

Ceremonies dedicating the new Hyde Road covered bridge in the honor of former Greene County Engineer Richard P. Eastman were held Friday.

Close to 75 people turned out, including county and village officials, contractors, engineers and residents.

“This bridge just adds so much to Greene County,” said Yellow Springs resident Ted Barker. “It’s just another great reason to bring people here to tour the Glen, John Bryan and downtown Yellow Springs.”

The original single-lane bridge, which crosses the Little Miami bike trail, was built in the early 1900 by the railroads, according to Bob Geyer, Greene County Engineer, and deteriorating rapidly.

“I knew its days were coming (to an end),” Geyer said. “We needed something special here. Another bridge wasn’t the right thing to do.”

But Geyer, who began his career working for Eastman in the 1970s, had a vision for the bridge.

He decided to name the bridge in Eastman’s memory “because Dick loved covered bridges,” he said.

The Howe truss bridge is 78 feet long and took 200,000 pounds of wood to construct, Geyer said.

The bridge cost nearly $500,000 to build, with half of the money coming from Ohio Public Works money, which was just approved by Ohio voters on Tuesday, Geyer said. The other project funding came from county bridge levy monies.

The old bridge was demolished in December and construction began in March.

It is one of six covered bridges in Greene County.

Smolen Engineering, of Jefferson, designed the bridge; Zachrich Construction, of Defiance, built it.

“Yellow Springs, you got your tax money back,” Geyer said.

While the new covered bridge is still a single-lane bridge, it can also carry legal loads and is of legal heights and widths for school buses and trailers. There are no load limits, Geyer told the crowd.

The bridge is also under video surveillance to prevent graffiti artists from leaving their marks, Geyer said.

Eastman was a native of Springfield, and a graduate of Antioch College. He and his wife Roberta (known as Billie) raise four children, John, Roy, David and Rachel, in the Vale community just south of Yellow Springs near the bridge.

He began his career as the deputy Greene County Engineer in 1973 and was elected engineer in 1974. He served five terms before retiring in 1996.

He was a life-long Quaker and founder of the Yellow Springs Friends Meeting, as well as active in the American Friends Services Committee and a faculty member and dean at Antioch College.

He was also instrumental in the development of the miles of bike paths that connect Greene County.

Son John Eastman spoke emotionally about the event.

“We used to wait at the bridge to catch the school bus,” he said, and as children, walked on the outside of the bridge, hanging onto the guy-wires. “To know this will be here for a long time to come—that means so much. It’s a thrill to have this here—it’s a real comfort for me.”