A Plan for Restoring the Clements Stone Arch Bridge




Whereas a complete restoration of the bridge would be ideal, and much desired, it appears impractical in the face of financial constraints on the Chase County community. Instead, a phased approach to the bridge restoration seems more feasible, in view of a number of facts:

◆ A complete restoration of the Clements Stone Arch Bridge would probably cost in the $200,000 to $300,000 range, or perhaps more, requiring a large commitment of local or private funds, at least twenty percent;
◆ No know source of local or private funds in the $40,000 to $60,000 range exists;
◆ It may be possible to achieve a substantial measure of the tourism and economic benefits through small, incremental restoration improvements to the bridge. A successful outcome from one phase then becomes an argument for undertaking the next phase. Also, a successful outcome from a small, less expensive effort may induce local and private support to be more forthcoming for a subsequent, more expensive phase.
It was decided to approach the restoration through a series of incremental steps, with the first phase being carried out entirely with volunteers, the second phase involving some participation by the local government, and the third phase depending on state and federal grant money. Phase 4 consists of developing an alternative means of managing and maintaining the bridge.


Summary of the Plan


Restoration of the bridge could be carried out in the three following phases:

Phase 1:

Baluster and wing wall restoration to original appearance.

Restore the bridge to its original visual appearance. The most obvious visual impact on the bridge came from removing some of the baluster stones, degrading the visual effect the designer intended to create. There are also some joints in the northern wing walls that have opened up due to subsidence.

This phase has been essentially completed. The tasks not completed in this phase have been reassigned to later phases where they fit better.

Phase 2:

Access improvements and visitor accommodations.

Modify the site to make viewing the bridge less difficult. At the present time there are no visitor accommodations of any sort. Vehicles park on the side of a narrow road and turn around in the driveway of the neighboring residence. Large vehicles such as tour busses cannot be accommodated conveniently.

Phase 3:

Structural restoration of the bridge foundation and arches.

Stabilize the bridge structure so that it will endure for generations to come. There are obvious signs of deterioration (spalling, discoloration, cracking, degraded foundation stones) but there may also be issues apparent only to a specialist in masonry arch construction. The fact that the bridge has stood for nearly 120 years speaks to the overall quality of construction.

Phase 4:

Establish a mechanism for managing and maintaining the bridge and environs that does not involve the county government.

The county owns the bridge and the access road to it, but they consider it a liability since they are responsible for maintenance and management. This task is given to the Superintendent of Roads and Bridges, even though the bridge is no longer a part of the county’s transportation infrastructure. A nonprofit or volunteer entity could contract with the county to take responsibility for the bridge.


This plan addresses each of these phases and lays out what needs to be done and how the work might be accomplished. The work for Phase 1 has been completed or reassigned. The issues that must be dealt with in Phase 2 are now the main focus of this plan. Phase 3 is addressed primarily in terms of the project’s eligibility for various funding sources. Phase 4 is still in the speculative stage.

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