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* News Release *
 
Thursday, July 18, 2002
For Immediate Release

NEW CALIFORNIA ROAD BRIDGE OPENS
Bridge Dedicated to All U.S. Veterans and POWs

A ribbon cutting and dedication to American veterans and prisoners of war marked the opening of the newly constructed California Road Bridge in Morgan Township today. The $2 million dollar bridge replacement and road realignment project began soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks last year. "It seemed appropriate that we dedicate this bridge to the heroes who have fought to protect our country's freedoms," said Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens.

"The design of this project, by Palmer Engineering of Middletown, was supervised by one of Butler County's own war veterans, Robert Petrocy, who served our country in World War II and spent time in a German prisoner of war camp," Wilkens stated. "Bob is a retired civil engineer who gave 33 years of service to the people of Ohio at the Ohio Department of Transportation, is a lifelong Butler County resident, and has spent the past 20 years as a federal aid consultant to the BCEO. We are truly honored to have him dedicate this bridge today."

Several state and local officials joined a host of U.S. war veterans and POWs for the ceremonial bridge opening, including State Representative Shawn Webster, Mike Cantwell representing Congressman Steve Chabot, Butler County Commissioner Courtney Combs, and the Morgan Township Trustees.

"Being a veteran who served essentially during peacetime, I can only imagine the dedication and devotion to country that men like Mr. Petrocy gave in World War II," said Representative Webster. "It is only fitting that we be reminded of these heroes daily, as we pass over this beautiful structure, to remember sacrifices they made for our freedom."

New Bridge, Safer Alignment

The new California Road bridge replaces an aged steel truss structure built in 1953. Now the highest bridge on the Butler County road system, the spectacular new structure is a 60-foot high concrete I-beam bridge spanning 500 feet across Dry Fork Creek. It was constructed to the east of the old bridge on a straighter vertical and horizontal alignment, thus eliminating the hazardous s-curves and steep hillside approach to the north side of the old truss.

As the BCEO's federal aid consultant, Petrocy was also responsible for leveraging federal funds to help finance 80 percent of the project's $2 million dollar price tag. The County Engineer funded 20 percent of the road realignment while the 80 percent in FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) funds was applied to the remainder of the road work and all of the bridge construction. Trend Construction of Cincinnati was the general contractor on the job. The opening of this bridge reduces the number of load restricted bridges under the Butler County Engineer's jurisdiction to 14, pending this year's annual bridge inspection.

The California Road bridge project almost became a prisoner of ill-fated circumstances of its own during the 10-month construction schedule. Heavy rains delayed construction for several weeks this spring. Moreover, BCEO engineers had planned to keep the old bridge open during construction with only a two-week closure necessary to tie in the newly aligned roadway with the new structure. However, advanced deterioration and unauthorized crossings by overweight vehicles had stressed the existing bridge making it increasingly unsafe and forcing an emergency closure last January. Fortunately, construction had just been completed on the nearby Okeana Drewersburg Road bridge, thus reducing a lengthy detour that would have resulted from both bridges being closed simultaneously.

Photos:

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For more information contact:

Chris Petrocy, Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S., Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 • Fax 513.867.5849


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