Before the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minnesota on Aug. 1, 2007, the Ohio Department of Transportation had already committed $500 million to an aggressive inspection and preservation program for all of its “babyboomer” bridges.
Ohio is home to more than 42,000 bridges of various sizes, types, and span styles and lengths. According to an ODOT press release, “Ohio requires more inspections on more bridges than any other state. Ohio is the only state to require annual bridge inspections — twice as often as federally required. All bridges in Ohio are looked at by inspectors who must go through a mandated ODOT bridge inspection training program.”
Initial inspections following the I-35W collapse focused specifically on the lower chord gussets to include section loss and distortion in gusset plates, section loss in chord members, and un-braced edges. Attention also was given to finding any loose rivets in any of the connections.
It was during an ODOT-mandated inspection that serious gusset-plate and age-related deficiencies and functional obsolescence were reported at the Washington Street Bridge on S.R. 7 in Marietta in eastern Ohio.
“Completed in 1953 by Bates and Rogers Construction Corp. of Chicago, the bridge span is over 1,030 feet long and carries roughly 16,000 vehicles daily,” said David Rose, public information officer for ODOT’s district 10. “The bridge has been in poor condition and has needed major work. The expansion joints needed to be replaced. The flanges were warped and in horrible shape. Originally there were sidewalks on both sides without any pedestrian railing.”
“Before” photos provided by ODOT show warped flange plates, rusted railing, a bad parapet wall with rebar hanging out of it, and old utility brackets.
Known locally as the “WSB,” the Washington Street Bridge closed for repairs on June 8 and is scheduled to re-open on Aug. 17. Preliminary work to include plate repairs, installing scaffolding for painting, installing utility supports, and removing the old drainage system, was completed before the bridge was closed.
According to Rose, “repairs will focus on the resurfacing of lanes, deck replacement, upgrade to railing and sidewalk, and minor structural repair to ensure safer road conditions and increase aesthetics. In an effort to integrate a multi-modal system, the sidewalk will be accessible to wheelchairs and pedestrians.”
The Ruhlin Company of Sharon Center, Ohio, was the successful bidder. ODOT was able to reduce the total project cost by nearly 11 percent from $7.9 million to $7.08 million. As an added incentive, $30,000 will be awarded to the contractor for each day the project is completed prior to Aug. 17. However, for every day the project exceeds the deadline, the contractor is penalized $30,000, according to an ODOT press release.
The incentive has been developed to minimize the impact time for the traveling public and for commercial businesses in and around Marietta.
The City of Marietta, on the advice of its engineering department, passed a new ordinance allowing for certain truck traffic to travel the temporary detour routes through the city to ease traffic tie-ups caused by the various detours during the bridge closure. Detour message boards also have been set in place at several locations.
“Public meetings were held and various routes were analyzed by the traffic engineering firm, MS Consultants in Columbus, Ohio. A detailed set of maintenance of traffic plans were developed by MS Consultants including closing certain roads, no parking along certain streets, temporary traffic signals, etc., all designed to help traffic flow through the city during the closure. The analysis of the local detour study assumed that there are 50 trucks per hour in each direction. That was based on the assumption that all through trucks will be taking the official ODOT Corridor D detour,” stated the engineering report to city officials.
“Marietta City Council’s Streets and Transportation Committee agreed to allow the through trucks of local companies on a downtown detour during the upcoming closure of the Washington Street Bridge,” the engineering report continued. “A number of representatives from the local trucking community came forward with this proposal,” Mayor Michael Mullen told the committee.
Some wrangling of funds by the city council, ODOT and local trucking firms, for the repair of a proposed detour route through the city ensued, but was successfully concluded.
Rose said, “We have been doing weekly Web site updates with any closures and/or delays as well as photos and videos. We have an interactive video of the 12-hour deck pour. We have gotten great feedback from the community on how much they enjoy the site. The video is unique as ODOT has never done anything like this before and the community wants more.”
ODOT crews affected by the bridge closure have restructured their logistics and methods of operation. District 10 County Manager, Doug Clifton, said, “We have strategically placed teams, equipment and material north and south of the city to avoid local traffic patterns as to not become a contributing factor to the congestion. Our goal is to effectively use our resources during the bridge closure to make the commute safe for the traveling public.”
Marietta is strategically positioned with access to both the Ohio and Muskingum rivers, and boasts several tourist destinations. Construction hours of operation have been designated to not interfere with the Campus Martius and Ohio River Museum or Riverboat Valley Gem. Detours also have been laid out for the covered bridge sightseeing route nearby. Bridge work will be completed before the popular Sternwheel Festival in September. CEG