Those fond of the covered bridge and arboretum in Pickerington's Sycamore Creek Park now can visit both freely.

The Zeller-Smith covered bridge that spans Sycamore Creek has been given the green light to reopen for pedestrian traffic after being closed for about 18 months.

That news means the arboretum is now open to the public as well.

The storied bridge was the tree park's only means of access across Sycamore Creek. Built in 1906 to cross the creek at Busey Road in Violet Township, the bridge was moved to Sycamore Creek Park in 1986.

Two routine inspections by engineers discovered substantial structural damage and the bridge was closed for repairs in early 2016.

Recognizing both landmarks are vital to the city's identity, Pickerington City Council budgeted $45,000 in the 2017 to fix the bridge this year.

City Engineer Scott Tourville said design and construction costs for the bridge came in at about $40,000.

According to Davin Ng, chief bridge engineer with the GPD Group, the bridge now can hold up to 320 people at a time.

City officials said they are excited that Sycamore Creek Park gets two of its major attractions back at once.

"The city of Pickerington is happy to have our community's covered bridge and Arboretum access back open," said City Manager Bill Vance.

Pickerington's recognition as a National Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA for more than 20 years has been celebrated on Arbor Day in the arboretum until the bridge closure forced the festivities elsewhere in 2016 and 2017.

The 2018 Arbor Day celebration will be held in the arboretum.

Vance said the reopening of the bridge and arboretum reflects an emphasis of importance the city leadership continues to place on maintaining Pickerington's historic treasures, a dedication to trees and sustaining a high level of quality life experiences.

"The bridge is a gateway to our frequently visited arboretum," Vance said. "The repairs will ensure (the bridge's) viability for years to come."