CAMPTON — Just two months since the completion of a year-long, $2.5 million overhaul, the Blair Bridge — which crosses over the Pemigewasset River — had to be shut down Thursday afternoon when it was damaged by a tall truck that attempted to cross the single-lane span.
Campton Police Chief Christopher Warn said in an e-mail that around 12:40 p.m. Thursday, a 1995 International 4700 box truck, operated by Wayne Rix, 65, of Rochester drove onto the Blair Covered Bridge and damaged “a number of the wooden cross beams.”
Rix, who Warn said has charges pending against him, told investigating officers that he was unfamiliar with the area and had been on Route 175 and was following “detour” signs that led him to the bridge. Warn noted that the bridge is posted for a height limit of 8 feet and a weight limit of six tons.
The bridge was closed temporarily to clean up and survey the damage, Warn said, adding that inspectors informed the town “that the bridge remains structurally sound but will require some work after the Labor Day weekend.”
Originally built in 1829, the Blair Covered Bridge is 292 feet, 10 inches long, 20 feet, 2 inches wide and until its most recent improvements, had a maximum vertical clearance of 13 feet, 3 inches and could have supported vehicles of up to three tons in weight, according to the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development.
The bridge was burned down by an arsonist but rebuilt in 1870, and then rebuilt again in 1977. The bridge was damaged in August 2011 when floodwaters from Hurricane Irene carried a large pine tree into it.