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Damage estimate to covered bridge placed at $89,000

A new report predicts it will cost $89,000 to fix the damage a tractor-trailer rig inflicted on the Spencerville Covered Bridge last month.

Engineers from Indianapolis-based USI Consultants Inc. inspected the historic wooden bridge and issued the report that calls for a series of repairs, including rebuilding both entrances and replacing the roof trusses and 60 feet of the roof.

An earlier estimate from the DeKalb County highway superintendent put the price tag between $100,000 and $300,000.

The extensive damage occurred the afternoon of Sept. 26 when a trucker crossed the bridge with a rig that exceeded the structure’s 12 1/2 -foot clearance.

The trucker, Gerard Hudson, 46, of Waukegan, Ill., told authorities his GPS device had directed him to drive under the bridge, the sheriff’s department said.

The one-lane covered bridge, built in 1873, sits just north of a bridge for truck traffic.

Hudson was charged with felony criminal mischief and cited for two federal motor carrier safety regulation violations, court records show. He remained in custody Wednesday night at the county jail, with a bail of $1,500.

According to the sheriff’s department, Hudson was driving for J.F. Freight Co. of Palatine, Ill., and he was insured. The highway superintendent has said he expects J.F. Freight’s insurance will have to cover the cost of the bridge damage.

The bridge, which spans the St. Joseph River near Spencerville, is closed to traffic.