MERIDEN — South Meriden’s iconic red bridge is beaming red again thanks to the Meriden Lions Club.
The community service club recently finished repainting the 127-year-old bridge, which had begun to deteriorate following earlier restoration projects.
“It looks very very nice,” said Lion’s Club member Francis Zygmont, one of several members involved with the restoration.
The bridge, which spans the Quinnipiac River and is located next to the intersection of River and Oregon roads, was built in 1891 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The restoration work is being done by club volunteers along with a contractor the club hired earlier this year. The club held a pasta dinner fundraiser in April to raise money .
With the paint job finished, the club is trying to replace the bridge’s roughly 75 white oak planks, which has been difficult because Zygmont said the planks are hard to find and expensive.
“Typically we try to replace it with the original stuff, and we've had luck in the past, but I understand we’re having some trouble,” said Acting City Manager Ken Morgan, a Lions Club member. He expects the club will be able to find planks and finish the restoration by winter.
“Once that’s done, the bridge will be pretty much restored,” Morgan said.
The Lions Club has taken responsibility for bridge maintenance over the years. Zygmont said he helped spearhead a restoration project as club president in the mid-1990s to restore the bridge, which was “ready to fall down” at the time. The project was completed in September 2002.
Morgan called the bridge a “city icon.”
“It’s an icon in the city that’s been around forever and trying to keep those type of historical structures viable is hard to do through the city budget,” Morgan said. “We now have an iconic structure that will last quite a bit longer.”