Plans to replace a submarine bridge crossing Joy Fork on GoshenTWP road 197 have been delayed due to winter weather. The Captina watershed region recorded its largest single accumulation so far this season overnight as 5-6" of light powdery snow blanketed the area. Submarine bridges are concrete structures that span across larger streams just above normal pool elevation to allow traffic to pass. They have built-in culverts on their undersides that, depending on the change of elevation across the span of the bridge, can serve as a barrier in the stream. An advantage to this design is that in times of mild to moderate flooding the bridge can be completely submerged without damage.
The Joy Fork bridge was scheduled to be surveyed by a private contractor and is being replaced by recommendation of the OEPA with assistance from US Fish and Wildlife service. Joy Fork is a pristine side tributary to larger Bend Fork which drains areas south and east of Belmont and Bethesda, west of Centerville and Armstrongs Mills and east of Hunter and the OVCC facility. Specifically, Joy Fork runs just west of the Dysart Woods preserve along TWP road 197 southward to the confluence with Bend Fork in what is known locally as the "Seven Creeks" area. It meets exceptional warmwater habitat (EWH) for macroinvertebrate diversity, but not for fish diversity. EPA biologists have observed the bridge acting as a fish barrier to species seeking occupation of habitat further upstream and believe removing the barrier will elevate the ranking of Joy Fork to EWH for fish diversity. Project officials hope to have the bridge replaced by this summer. Watch for updates and photos in the near future.