State surveyors have been on the prowl in parts of Waterville and two Wood County townships recently to gather data for three upcoming Ohio Department of Transportation projects that include replacing the Waterville Bridge over the Maumee River.
The two other projects, expected to occur first, involve moving River Road, part of State Rt. 65, back from the riverbank at two sites where river currents have eroded the slope, ODOT officials said last week.
Alternative routings will be the subject of a public meeting in September, said Mike Gramza, the department’s district planning engineer in Bowling Green.
None of the alternatives now under consideration requires taking any homes, he said, but “there might be some garages impacted, depending on where we go” with a road relocation near the Reitz Road intersection.
Overall, slices of three or four properties in that area, where River Road also is part of State Rt. 64, are likely to be needed for construction, Mr. Gramza said.
The other erosion problem is just west of Nazareth Hall in Grand Rapids Township, he said, and likely affects two pieces of property along Route 65.
Each relocation is expected to cost about $2.2 million, with construction slated for 2015.
The slipping slopes along the river are “something that we’ve had our eye on” since at least 2007, when pavement cracking became a problem and nearby utility poles began to shift, said Theresa Pollick, ODOT’s district spokesman.
The Waterville Bridge replacement, meanwhile, involves one of the last bridges on the state highway network in northwest Ohio, a design that has fallen out of favor because of its “fracture-critical” nature.
ODOT hasn’t decided whether to build Route 64’s new Maumee crossing on another alignment or tear down the current bridge, built in 1948, and use the same route.
Building on a new alignment would allow the existing bridge to stay open during construction, Mr. Gramza said.
The other option would close the crossing for nearly two years.
Crews have been taking soil and geologic samples and performing environmental surveys to assess possible project routes, he said.
“We’ll talk about it very briefly” during the September meetings, Mr. Gramza said, but a more detailed discussion will have to wait until a public meeting next spring. The bridge replacement, expected to cost $14 million, is tentatively set for 2017.
On the Waterville side, the most likely alternative to the existing bridge route is to link the new bridge to Farnsworth Road, which would eliminate a jog Route 64 takes between Mechanic Street and Farnsworth along Old U.S. 24.
That would include demolishing the former Waterville School, Mr. Gramza said, adding that “my understanding is there’s not a lot of opposition” to that.
Opposition was significant in 2010 when the city paid the Anthony Wayne Local Schools $90,000 for the building, once rental quarters for a branch of the Lucas County Educational Service Center and by various local groups and artisans.
But two city grant applications to raze the 1923-built school and convert the property into a riverfront park have failed, and the old building has stood vacant.
Waterville Mayor Lori Brodie said the city wants to see the proposals ODOT develops for the project but noted that closing the bridge while a replacement is built would be particularly inconvenient for Wood County students who attend Anthony Wayne schools.
“The area is important to Waterville,” she said.
City administrator James Bagdonas said a 2006 city development plan still proposes a riverfront park for the property.
He noted that the land ODOT would vacate at the foot of Farnsworth should it move the bridge would not be as spacious for the development.
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