The Honey Run Covered Bridge Association (HRCBA) is pleased to announce our way forward in rebuilding the Honey Run Covered Bridge, which was destroyed November 8, 2018 in the Camp Fire.
At a meeting January 9, 2019 among 25 individuals with various interests in the Covered Bridge, two decisions were made. First, we decided, working together, we would do all possible to rebuild the Bridge, maintaining its original design and appearance with necessary safety standard upgrades. Second, we agreed to endorse Butte County’s effort to seek Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding. This seemed appropriate since Butte County had owned the Covered Bridge since its construction in 1887, with the adjacent Covered Bridge Park owned and managed since its inception in 1965 by the non-profit Honey Run Covered Bridge Association.
In April 2019, Butte County informed HRCBA that FEMA would only reimburse costs of reconstruction, and only then if FEMA standards and requirements were met. Butte County has no funds for reconstruction, given other critical costs of infrastructure repairs due to the Camp Fire. Consequently, HRCBA has begun discussions with Butte County staff about obtaining 1) the County deed to the right-of-way across Butte Creek where the Covered Bridge had stood, and 2) eventual HRCBA ownership of the reconstructed Covered Bridge. This will require the Covered Bridge rebuild to be funded with private donations.
While awaiting a final County decision on these transfers, we are discussing with Butte County staff a temporary Easement Permit to begin hydrologic and geotechnical studies needed to construct new foundations supporting the Bridge pillars. We hope these studies will be completed this summer.
Quincy Engineering of Rancho Cordova, an experienced bridge engineering firm with strong Butte County ties, has provided to HRCBA, pro bono, outlines of a plan to rebuild the Bridge. Northstar of Chico has donated surveys. While we had hoped that construction might begin later this summer with expedited permits, federal regulatory agencies have determined that because the original construction of the Bridge footings do not meet current standards, a full review will be needed, delaying the start date for several months.
Meanwhile, Quincy Engineering has presented a cost analysis totaling $3 million, an amount that could be offset with donated materials and labor. Additional expenses will be incurred from repairing and upgrading the adjacent Honey Run Covered Bridge Park. Already, $300,000 has come to HRCBA through merchandise sales, individual donations, small grants, and pledges. HRCBA will continue to search for and welcome donations of funds, material and labor.
Destruction of the Honey Run Covered Bridge in the Camp Fire was a great loss. HRCBA believes that rebuilding the Bridge provides a unique opportunity for the communities of Paradise, Chico and surrounding areas to unite with common purpose and passion in restoring this iconic structure.