A new bridge immediately next to the existing structure or one angling across the Maumee River toward Farnsworth Road are two of three options the Ohio Department of Transportation is considering for replacing the Waterville Bridge.
The third option is to replace the bridge on its current alignment, but that would require closing State Rt. 64’s river crossing for up to a year or longer.
ODOT’s bridge-replacement plans will be the subject of a public meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday in the Community Room at Waterville Primary School.
Mike Gramza, the department’s district planning administrator, said ODOT has no preference among the three alternatives.
“We’re going to go with these three options and see what we get from the public,” he said, noting that ODOT will continue to accept written comments about the project through April 10.
ODOT plans to replace the bridge, built in 1948, starting in 2017 at a cost of $18 million to $21 million, not including any new right-of-way needed.
For all three alternatives, the state proposes building a roundabout at the northerly junction of State Rts. 64 and 65, near the bridge’s east end in Wood County’s Middleton Township.
That would require condemning small corners and frontage on several parcels.
The project also is likely to affect several properties on the Waterville side of the river.
Road widening would affect parcels on either side of Route 64 if the existing alignment is used, while shifting the bridge’s Waterville end to line up with Farnsworth would run the highway through the vacant Waterville School on South River Road.
The current bridge has no shoulders.
Its replacement will have two lanes, shoulders, a conventional sidewalk on the upstream side, and a “multiuse path” on the downstream side.
Using the new alignment would have the least impact on traffic, officials said, and taking Route 64 off Mechanic Street would eliminate the state highway’s one-block jog in the center of town.
Building right next to the existing bridge, which is considered obsolete because of its narrow lanes and truss design, would require closing Route 64 for 30 to 45 days while a new Waterville approach is tied into the existing roadway just east of Waterville’s River Road.
ODOT replaced the State Rt. 109 bridge in Napoleon on the same alignment, which, with expedited construction using precast bridge segments, closed that Maumee River crossing for nine months in 2005.
“That would be the best we could do — nine to 12 months,” Mr. Gramza said regarding how long Route 64 would be closed if the bridge is replaced on its current path.
Michael Stormer, ODOT’s district planning engineer, said planners also looked at upstream and downstream alternatives for building a new bridge, but ruled them out for several reasons, including cost.
“There would be a much higher cost” for upgrading additional roads at either end of the bridge to state-highway standards, and the river is wider in those locations, Mr. Stormer said.
Bypassing Waterville also would remove the city’s only direct connection to the state-highway network, he said.
“It just didn’t work very well from a traffic-flow standpoint,” Mr. Stormer said.
Those wishing to file comments after the meeting Thursday should email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to ODOT District 2 at 317 E. Poe Rd., Bowling Green, to the attention of the Office of Planning and Engineering.
In a separate project, ODOT plans to shore up a slumping embankment along Routes 64 and 65 just south of the Waterville Bridge, as well as one farther upstream on Route 65.
That work is scheduled for next year.
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.