One of the key objections raised by the Board of Commissioners surrounds the ongoing cost of maintaining the Black’s Run Bridge. That seems like a wise and fair question to ask before taking ownership of a bridge. So, RiverWise and the Ohio River Trail Council have been hard at work answering this question with as much precision as possible. Here’s what we’ve learned, based on multiple conversations with local insurance companies, engineering firms, and regional and national trail management organizations.

The total annual cost of owning the Black’s Run Bridge is estimated to be roughly $21,400. That includes (1) an average of $9,000 per year to cover inspections required by the state; (2) approximately $3,900 annually to pay county employees to cut the grass, pick up trash, shovel snow, etc.; and (3) around $8,500 per year to pay for liability insurance. Since the county already owns nearly 60 other bridges, these costs could potentially be even lower.

Assuming our estimates are reliable, that means that it would cost Beaver County approximately $0.13 per year, per resident to make possible a 15-mile loop of trail, over $10 million in local trail construction activity, increased local tourism, growth in economic development and entrepreneurship, morel local hotel stays and restaurant visits, new business activity, connectivity to national networks of trails, increased quality of life, and more.

Put another way, over a 10 year period, this would amount to roughly 0.2326% of the $92 million in new money the county just received from the American Rescue Plan. From where we sit, this seems like a pretty sound investment in Beaver County’s future. If you agree, let the Board of Commissioners know by signing the petition now.