The Blade/Lori King
COLUMBUS — Thanks in part to federal funds made possible by borrowing against the Ohio Turnpike, the state said Wednesday that it will spend $120 million over three years to fully fund the repair or replacement of 200 local bridges over three years.
Five of the first 40 bridges for which work will begin in the spring are in Wood County. One is in Sandusky County, and three more are in Allen County. All are at least 20-feet long and are either county-owned or city-owned.
“Some of it is safety,” Gov. John Kasich said. “Some of it is connected to economic development. And some of it, when you think about it, is some guy who had a heart attack across a bridge and the EMT can’t get across the bridge. You’re at home saying, ‘Where are they?’ So this is all good news, and it’s going to pay off.”
The remaining bridges will be identified as soon as next spring, said Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray.
Among the first phase in northwest Ohio are:
● Wood County’s bridge carrying Bradner Road over Hendy Ditch in Lake Township.
● Clyde city’s bridge carrying South Street over Raccoon Creek in Sandusky County.
● Wood County’s bridge carrying Henry-Wood County Line Road over Brush Creek in Bartlow Township.
● Wood County’s bridge carrying Mermill Road over a ditch in Portage Township.
● Wood County’s bridge on Jerry City Road straddling Montgomery and Perry townships.
● Wood County’s Liberty Hi Road bridge in Liberty Township.
● Allen County’s bridge carrying Lincoln Highway over Pike Run in Sugar Creek Township.
● Allen County’s bridge carrying Ream Road over Wrestle Creek in Perry Township
● Allen County’s bridge on Hook Waltz Road in Monroe Township.
Wood County Engineer Raymond A. Hubler was unaware that five of the county’s bridges had been picked for the first round of funding, but said he was grateful.
“I will gladly accept a Christmas present,” he said. “I believe all of them were on our list, but none [was] earmarked for any work at this particular time.”
Mr. Wray said the rare case of the state picking up the tab for bridges that are the responsibility of cities and counties should free up local money for other projects.
“All of their other normal programs are still in place,” he said. “This is a one-time supplemental program where we’ll replace over 200 bridges in three years and help the locals get a handle on their bridge situations.”
He said the initial bridges were picked in consultation with the County Engineers Association of Ohio to identify bridges considered to be in the worst condition, have the most traffic, and have safety concerns. The emphasis was on bridges that remain open to traffic rather than those that have already been closed because of their condition.
“Two hundred bridges is substantial,” he said. “Bridges don’t get better with age, and [county engineers] deal with them one at a time. ... This is just going to help them manage their bridge program [and] take some bridges off their books that they don’t have to worry about for several decades.”
The state recently borrowed $1 billion against future toll revenue on the Ohio Turnpike and has directly earmarked that funding toward projects deemed to have some relationship with the toll road. But the use of turnpike financing also is drawing additional federal funds that have gone into the state transportation program.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.