LIMA — Gov. John Kasich announced Thursday the state will invest $120 million to repair 200 bridges over three years. This investment comes as the result of reduced overhead and improved efficiency at the Ohio Department of Transportation.
“That innovative thinking and that careful management of our resources is why we can do this $120 million program to help counties and cities meet their bridge needs,” Kasich said.
Allen County will be among the first to see the benefits of this new program, with three bridges slated to be replaced next year and five more scheduled over the following two years.
A bridge on Hook Waltz Road, the bridge on Ream Road spanning Wrestle Creek and the bridge on Lincoln Highway overlooking Pike Run are among the 40 bridges set to be updated in 2014. The bridges on Neely Road, Grubb Road, Napoleon Road and an additional bridge on Lincoln Highway will be replaced sometime in 2015 or 2016. The concrete beams and roadway as well as the guard rails on the Collett Street bridge in Lima is also scheduled for replacement during that time.
For county engineers, including Allen County’s Timothy Piper, this money is desperately needed, with the majority of Ohio’s bridges falling under their purview.
“Almost two thirds of all the bridges in the state are the responsibility of the county engineers,” Piper said. “Over the last 30 years, the engineers have replaced or done major rehabilitations on 15,000 bridges, but we’re still falling behind. We have 22 bridges currently posted with weight limits and two that are closed, so we’re looking at 24 bridges in the county that essentially can’t carry legal loads.”
This issue is not unique to Allen County. According to the Department of Transportation, there are more than 1,900 county bridges with weight limits posted, with an additional 81 bridges closed.
“At least we can soon take 200 off that list,” Piper said.
Having eight bridges on the list signifies an enormous investment in Allen County.
“Each of those bridges cost around $200,000 to replace, so we’re looking at anywhere from $600,000 to $750,000 being spent on these three bridges here next year, and that’s money we don’t have to come up with,” Piper said. “I was also not expecting those additional bridges to be scheduled. I was very surprised to see that.”
Work on the first 40 bridges is slated to begin next spring.