Metcalf Street bridge to get weight restriction

LIMA — Due to deterioration caused by traffic-related wear and tear, one of Allen County’s most recognizable bridges will now have a weight restriction after the county commissioners approved a measure Thursday.

The decision regarding the Metcalf Street bridge came Thursday morning after Richland Engineering, an engineering consulting firm based in Mansfield, notified the Allen County Engineer’s Office of the bridge’s deteriorated condition after inspecting it.

“There is more than just one (issue), but the primary one is that there is deterioration in a pin connection in the (structure),” Allen County Engineer Brion Rhodes said.

For most traffic on the bridge, located between West Fourth Street and South Lake Street near the Lima Cenovus Refinery, this restriction should have no effect on access to the bridge.

The restriction comes when dealing with larger trailers and equipment, with the bridge set to have single-unit weight limits of 15 tons for two axles, 23 tons for three axles, 27 tons for four axles, 31 tons for five axles and 34 tons for units with six or more axles.

For Rhodes, taking this precaution is one of the needed steps in putting the bridge in line to receive outside funding for repairs.

“To get funding from the state or federal governments for bridges such as that one, there are certain criteria to meet,” he said. “So you have to meet certain criteria to get funding for rehab, and then if it falls even further to a certain level, then you are eligible for funding for replacement. This can have an effect on the scoring.”

This is not the first time this bridge has undergone repairs, Rhodes said, with a large project taking place in 1989 and another rehabilitation project taking place in 2007. As for when the conditions of the bridge will prompt further repair or rehabilitation, Rhodes is relying on information from consultants like Richland Engineering.

“They know the structure, and they’re giving us insight on what the next step is,” he said. “We’re hoping that we can maybe do a repair on it, but we know that eventually, it will definitely need to be replaced. We just don’t know when or what the cost is going to be.”

The largest bridge structure under the auspices of the county engineer, the Metcalf Street bridge is so large that any replacement project would be so expensive that the county would need to obtain outside funding, Rhodes said.

“That is a major project, and it would be a sizable amount,” he said. “Years ago, they were discussing this project (costing) $25 million, and I don’t know what it would be today. … The cost for that is north of four times my annual budget.”

Jeffers Crane Service, located near the bridge at 1119 S. Metcalf St., has been notified of the upcoming weight restriction in order to determine alternate transportation routes for its equipment, Rhodes said.