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Community contemplates potential loss of iconic Roche de Boeuf bridge ahead of ODOT auction

The bridge represents many things to area residents but the high cost to repair the crumbling structure have finally forced ODOT's hand.

WATERVILLE, Ohio — A piece of Northwest Ohio history that spans more than a century is going up for auction this week, a last ditch effort by the state to save it from being torn down.

The Roche de Boeuf bridge in Waterville has meant a lot of things to a lot of people through the years.

And now it's up for auction with a starting price of just one dollar.

Many people in the area feel a connection to the old bridge, now beginning to crumble into the Maumee River.

"Im not sure who would invest in this unless someone had a real interest in the history of it, but it would be wonderful if somebody did, said former Waterville resident Jen Hansen. 

RELATED: Bridge for a buck? Old Waterville bridge for auction starting at just $1

For some, the Waterville bridge is a place to contemplate life. A calm place to think as the river flows by.

"This is my sitting spot right here. Sometimes I bring my chair and sit it on the rock and do my reading for my studies or just for pleasure, said former Waterville resident Zachary Silverman. I just love it, it's nice and serene with beautiful scenery and the noise with the water on the rocks its calming and nice."   

For people like Jen Hansen, the bridge is a connection to the past, a link to their childhood with memories of friends and loved ones.

"It’s just a place where you could come out and hang and sit and talk to your friends,” said Jen. “It’s just a really quiet, peaceful, and beautiful spot and when I think of Waterville, this is one of the main things I think of."  

Despite the good feelings the bridge elicits, the bridge has become a safety hazard and is in need of repairs totaling millions of dollars to make it safe. At the same time, the bridge could cost more than $2 million to tear down. Whoever buys the bridge will have to assume all responsibility and liability for the maintenance, management, or removal of the bridge, perhaps explaining the give-away starting price.

Built in 1908, the bridge was originally used as an electric inter-urban trolley line.

In 1943, the State of Ohio bought the structure.  By 1972, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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11 years later however, ODOT took a second look at the bridge and determined it was no longer safe. 

"It’s a landmark for sure. A part of the community you know. It’s been here longer than anyone else has, I suppose," said Zachary. 

Because of its history, ODOT reached out to historical societies, preservation groups, and others - but no deal was ever worked out.

ODOT says it's time to let it go and this is their final attempt to sell the bridge and land.

If no one bids the state says it will likely have to tear this piece of northwest Ohio history down.

"I think anyone that's from here its memories; you drove by this just like the other bridge that was town down, I mean these are pieces of our memories here and when they go away it’s just very, very sad," said Jen.  

The auction happens on Wednesday, June 30 at 10 a.m at Sidecut Metropark.

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