LIMA — Nearly a year ago, Allen County paired up with the Ohio Department of Transportation, building a partnership that would repair roughly 230 bridges throughout Ohio, with a $120 million price tag.
As 2014 is nearing it’s end, the Allen County Engineer’s Office and the ODOT District 1 office held a news conference at the newly completed bridge on Lincoln Highway near Gomer, showcasing the work the partnership has completed.
“I want to thank ODOT and the governor for doing this program because this is a great program across the state,” Allen County Engineer Tim Piper said.
Kirk Slusher, District 1 Deputy Director of ODOT, said Ohio is the second state in the nation with the most bridges, behind Texas. Slusher said ODOT has taken into account the bridges in Ohio both on the county level and decided the most efficient way to repair or replace them all. “State-wide and on the state-level, our bridges are actually in pretty good shape and state-wide we actually have higher bridge conditions than most other states do,” Slusher said.
Local needs are the driving force behind the partnership, prompting Ohio Gov. John Kaisch to create the Ohio Bridge Partnership. The partnership identifies the needs of locals and how the partnership can help bridges and their conditions.
Seven bridges in Allen County are undergoing construction, three have been completed and the remaining will be completed over the next two years. One bridge will also face construction in Hardin County.
“We’re really excited to be partnering with local governments,” Slusher said.
R&I Construction, of Tiffin, completed the construction of the two bridges on Lincoln Highway and a third bridge, costing roughly $1 million. Piper said the construction company did “an excellent job” as ODOT supervised the construction.
“All of this does help us out,” Piper said, noting the county sports 24 bridges that are either closed or are nearing closing.
The partnership will begin taking care of seven of those on the list of bridges that need repair. Each bridge project has taken nearly 45 days to complete, Piper said.
Piper said materials for the construction were also retrieved from local suppliers. The projects themselves bring money in to the county as workers will buy gas, food and other items locally.
“It’s a piggy-back affect and it does help our economy,” Piper said.
Other local construction companies bid on the projects, however, it is not necessarily the lowest bidder that wins the project.
If a bridge lies within a certain village’s boundaries, further costs to the bridge become the responsibility of the village. Allen County is responsible for bridges in unincorporated areas.