Butler County Engineer
Greg Wilkens announces that the new Taylor School Road Bridge
near Seven Mile will open to traffic tomorrow at 12:00 noon.
A brief ceremony will be held at 11:00 a.m. to recognize those
who worked to ensure the bridge's timely completion.
"It was a dramatic
effort by a number of people to make this opening a reality.
Many of them worked six and seven days a week so that we wouldn't
have to keep the road closed through the winter," Wilkens
said. "We know this has been an inconvenience to the motorists
in this area and we wanted to get the road open as quickly as
possible. Favorable weather this fall has also been very helpful."
With a new 3-span concrete
box beam bridge in place, the road opens tomorrow after being
closed for ten months. The old structure, a two-span truss built
in 1928, was closed last February because advanced deterioration
of the truss had caused the bridge's middle section to sag, making
it unsafe for motorists. The aging bridge had been posted with
a 20-ton load limit and was originally scheduled for replacement
in late 2002.
"We were already
in the design process and on schedule for new bridge construction
in 2002," Wilkens noted in an earlier statement. "But
the plans were not yet complete when we were forced into an emergency
closure. Our engineers immediately accelerated design and engineering
for the new bridge, and funding that was allocated for next year
had to be worked into this year's budget."
Wilkens added: "We
immediately formed a partnership with the Ohio Department of
Transportation, which expedited the environmental process, and
Burgess & Niple Engineers, who provided a quick turnaround
on design. SK Construction is also to be commended for getting
the new bridge built in such a short time frame." SK was
awarded the construction contract in October, submitting a low
bid of $993,665. Federal LPA funds were utilized to pay for the
new bridge over Seven Mile Creek on the Wayne / St. Clair Township
Project timelines were
compressed to facilitate the December opening, according to Wilkens.
Environmental studies, which can take up to a year for a typical
bridge this size, were cut to four months. Moreover, the construction
timeline was reduced from a typical five-month period to just
two months. "Overall we were able to cut nearly a year and
half off the total timeline in an effort to reopen this bridge,"
This emergency project
underscores the critical funding needs for what are perceived
to be rural roads. "Taylor School Road and this bridge seem
to be unknown until they are out of service. They may not carry
large traffic volumes, but they carry critical trips," Wilkens
emphasized. "Taylor School is a major east-west connector
linking many communities in north-central Butler County. When
a road like this goes down, engineering isn't always our major
obstacle. Finding the money for repairs is the primary challenge."
Year of Emergencies and Strained Budgets
The Taylor School Road
Bridge was not the only unexpected project to strain the Engineer's
budget this year. An embankment slip in February forced the closure
of Mauds Hughes Road in Liberty Township and July's flash floods
produced extensive damage to numerous roads, culverts, and bridges
resulting in thirteen emergency closures. Nearly all flood-damaged
roads have since been reopened. Canal Road in Fairfield Township
remains closed while BCEO officials pursue various funding sources
for the estimated $300,000 repair.