There’s a beloved State relic from a time bygone in historic downtown Long Grove that is in danger of being demolished.  We would like to share with you the story of our famed Long Gove Covered Bridge before asking for your support in helping us save it.

As one of the last iron trusses in The Chicago area, the single-lane Covered Bridge is so iconic, it’s quite literally become Long Grove’s emblem.   For over 100 years, the bridge has stood as the symbol of this crossroads town, one of the first in the country to pass a Historic Landmark Ordinance (in 1962) so that new construction need conform to its unique and charming style.  The Covered Bridge has transcended its historical role as a functional necessity and a tourist attraction into something of far greater significance – the Queen and Protector of this special place we call Long Grove just 35 miles NW of Chicago.

As the gateway to the historic downtown, the Covered Bridge is where Long Grove’s quaintness begins and ends.  Not only does the single-lane bridge buffer the town from being a major thoroughfare to Route 53, but there’s also something enchanting about waiting at a stop sign while the car opposite of you slowly passes over the bridge before your turn.

To paraphrase one resident: “I love how you need to stop, which suggests for you to relax, and prepare to step back in time to a less hectic world.  As you ease across the bridge, the sound and feel of the bricks and timbers under you add another reminder that you’re entering a special place.”

To our dismay, the Village of Long Grove is clamoring to tear down this prominent piece of history in favor of a much larger, two-lane bridge that would receive federal funding.  This is why we have created the “Save the Bridge” campaign.  To the Long Grove community and people who visit here from around the world, the Covered Bridge means so much more than money.  It’s about integrity, and story.  The Covered Bridge makes Long Grove the pedestrian-friendly, walking town it is known for; where people feel safe crossing streets with kids and buzzing in and out of shops.  Opening up the main artery to 53 would change the whole atmosphere and landscape of downtown Long Grove, adding considerable traffic and safety concerns while detracting from the quaint, historic story of this timeless town.

Save the Bridge petitions are currently in circulation.  To date, over 3,500 people stemming throughout all seven continents have endorsed our cause.  We still need more statewide support to preserve, not destroy our single-lane Covered Bridge – an Illinois treasure.  If you agree with our sentiment, we hope you will consider signing our Save the Bridge petition, click here.

It’s not always about history that has passed, it’s about history in the making.  In 50 years, we hope historians can look back and say in saving the Covered Bridge, the people who love Long Grove held on to something even more significant – a quaint historic-themed island in a vast ocean of suburbia.

FAQ:

Can the Village Afford to Restore the Historic Covered Bridge?

Yes.

In round numbers, it’s expected to cost around $900K to restore the bridge, and the resulting restoration will have a useful life of at least 40 years. The village has an annual budget of around $4,000K, with $1,000K being allocated for roads and bridges in each of the last three years. The entire restoration project with a life of 40+ years fits entirely within a single year of the roads and bridges budget.

A few years ago, $500K was set aside for the Historic Covered Bridge restoration, so that, when the time came, it would be a bit less disruptive to the budget. In the 2017/18 budget discussion, there was a suggestion made to earmark $300K of discretionary revenue for the bridge restoration. The board decided it wasn’t needed, because “we’re only short a few hundred thousand and we can easily accommodate that within our budget… there’s no need to increase the amount being saved”.

In simple round numbers, $900K for a 40+ year bridge, is, at most, $23K per year. That is easily in the range of what the board doesn’t even budget for. Following are a few recent examples of unplanned/unbudgeted items the board has or is in discussion of allocating:

  • A $14K+ annual salary for the Village President, beginning in 2017
  • A new $50K accounting software package
  • $38K of additional expense to avoid removing some trees on Krueger Road
  • $50K/year for glossy mailers to Village residents

Could the bridge be torn down and replaced with a newer, cheaper bridge? No – a new federal bridge would be more expensive – about double the cost. It is true, that the Long Grove Village Government’s portion would only be 20% of that, so a bit less than restoration. But we’re all taxpayers, so it’s us that will end up footing the rest of that extra cost out of our other pocket. And a massive new two-lane, high-speed bridge would dump non-stop cut through traffic into our pedestrian friendly downtown. It’s short sighted and makes no sense. Could you drive a cheaper car or live in a cheaper home? Of course you could… why don’t you? Because you make decisions on what you want and what you can afford. It’s just common sense.

Over the years, past Village Boards have worked with the community to save and maintain our Historic Covered Bridge. It’s a gift to us from generations past. We can and will respect that gift by getting this bridge properly honored on the National Historic Register. The Village can afford to restore it and maintain it into the future. It’s our gift to the next generation of residents and shoppers. Let’s leave Long Grove a little better than when we found it.

What can you do?

Please sign the online petition and include where you are from. CLICK HERE

Send an email to the Village Board members:

Village President
Bill Jacob
847-778-5193
Trustees
Chris Borawski
847-949-5264
Anne Kritzmire
Chuck Nora
847-420-6347
Rita O’Connor
847-348-1234
847-208-8839
Bobbie O’Reilly
847-566-1117
Michael Sarlitto
847-204-1922
Village Clerk
Amy Johns Gayton
847-276-4087

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