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Decaying Bridges to Be Repaired

In total, more than 6,500 bridges are deemed deficient or functionally obsolete in Ohio.

Mon July 20, 2015 - Midwest Edition

Area bridges in need of repairs could continue to decay if funding needs aren’t reached soon.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) released a county-by-county report detailing the number of bridges that need work in the state. In total, more than 6,500 bridges are deemed deficient or functionally obsolete.

Brown called for a long-term transportation bill for the state as critical funding for Ohio roads and bridges is set to expire this month, according to a news release.

According to Brown’s report, the deficient bridges are defined as one of the following:

• Functionally Obsolete: A bridge that is no longer functionally adequate. These bridges may be perfectly safe and structurally sound, but may be the source of traffic jams or may not have a high enough clearance to allow an oversized vehicle.

• Structurally Deficient: A bridge that has one or more structural defects that require attention. This status does not indicate the severity of the defect but rather that a defect is present.

Of those 6,500 deficient bridges statewide, more than 200 are in Erie, Huron, Ottawa, Sandusky and Seneca counties.

But these bridges aren’t all owned or maintained by the respective counties. For instance, only 12 of the 20 deficient bridges in Ottawa County are maintained by the county. That means it’s up to the county and other entities to maintain their bridges.

“Ottawa County has developed a Bridge Capital Improvement program that we use to select, scope, and schedule improvements for our bridges,” Ottawa County engineer Ron Lajti said. "The program is based upon a very simple concept of expected service life for any given bridge.”

Lajti said each bridge has an average service life of about 50 years before it needs major upgrades or an outright replacement.

"Using this concept, we want to replace at least 2 bridges every year to assure that in the future we can minimize or eliminate deficiencies within our bridge inventory,” Lajti said.

The county has conservative plans to replace five bridges, one per year, through 2019 and update two bridges in 2018 and 2019.

Bridges slated for replacement include:

• 2015: Bridge on Portage South Road over Wolf Creek. Financed by an equal combination of county funds and money from a state loan.

• 2016: Bridge on Graytown Road over Turtle Creek. Financed 95 percent by federal funds and 5 percent county funds.

• 2017: Bridge on Graytown Road over Packer Creek. Financed 95 percent by federal funds and 5 percent by county funds.

• 2018: Bridge on Rider Road over Beef Creek. Tentatively financed completely by county funds.

• 2019: Bridge on Wildacre Road over Cedar Creek. Financed 95 percent by federal funds and five percent local funds.

Additionally, the county plans to update the Slemmer-Portage bridge over Indian Creek, which will tentatively be funded completely by the county, Lajti said.

“Sherrod Brown, along with many other supporters, is correct in this call for action on a long-term transportation bill,” Lajti said.

This story was reprinted with permission from the Sandusky Register.

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