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Published: Thursday, 1/27/2005

Project to redirect drivers

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A sign alerts motorists to the impending bridge closure in Napoleon. The 75-year-old span will be demolished and rebuilt. A sign alerts motorists to the impending bridge closure in Napoleon. The 75-year-old span will be demolished and rebuilt.
KING / BLADE Enlarge

NAPOLEON - The only bridge over the Maumee River in this Henry County city - and the only way to drive directly to the Campbell Soup Co. plant and the southeastern corner of the city - is to close for eight months starting Tuesday while a new $17.4 million bridge is built.

While the State Rt. 108-Perry Street Bridge is being replaced, drivers face a six-mile detour to the U.S. 6 bridge east of the city. Among the most-inconvenienced will be the Campbell Soup plant, which is about a mile from the bridge project, and its 1,285 employees.

"There is no shortcut," city engineer Joe Kleiner said. "There's nothing else."

About 16,000 vehicles a day cross the State Rt. 108-Perry Street Bridge, according to an Ohio Department of Transportation count. The department is using state and federal fuel-tax funds to replace the bridge, which is one of its largest projects of the year in an eight-county area of northwest Ohio.

The 75-year-old bridge's concrete is deteriorating, and it is narrower than roads that feed into it, leading to quarter-mile backups on weekday afternoons when Campbell Soup is changing shifts and the school day is ending, Mr. Kleiner said.

The bridge will be demolished and replaced by Fru-Con Construction Corp., which is building the I-280 bridge in Toledo. Fru-Con will cast the Napoleon bridge in 117 pieces at its I-280 casting area and haul the sections by truck about 45 miles to Napoleon.

The new bridge is to open by Oct. 8.

That gives Fru-Con 250 days to complete the project

But the state transportation department has given Fru-Con an incentive to finish earlier. For every day before Oct. 8 that the bridge is open, the state will pay Fru-Con an extra $10,000, up to a maximum of $250,000.

Conversely, for every day beyond the deadline that the project is not completed, the state will deduct $10,000 per day from Fru-Con's contract, without a cap.

The most time-sensitive part of the project likely will be from mid-March to April 15 when workers are constructing the piers in the river, state transportation department spokesman Joe Rutherford said.

They must finish that work by April 15 because of environmental regulations that prohibit working in the river from April 15 to June 15 when fish are spawning. And workers probably won't be able to start building the piers until mid-March because it is expected to take about six weeks to dismantle the existing bridge.

Thus, if the piers aren't finished by April 15, the whole project could be delayed by two months.

Architectural details on the new bridge are to match the old bridge, and lighting is to match the rest of downtown Napoleon, Mr. Rutherford said. The old bridge is a similar style - the construction trade calls it a concrete arch, earth-filled bridge - to the former Maumee-Perrysburg bridge, which was demolished in 2002. It was the same age as the Napoleon bridge when it was replaced.

The new Napoleon bridge, which has been planned since the 1990s, is to be a precast segmental concrete bridge.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.



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