Good news for County
Engineer Greg Wilkens and Butler County taxpayers -- the BCEO
learned this week that it will receive two federal grants totaling
over $2 million for bridge replacements in Ross and Reily Townships.
The Engineer's Office applied in May for Federal LBR (Local Bridge
Replacement) funds to replace bridges on Hamilton New London
Road and Reily Millville Road.
getting one but not both grants, so this is a very pleasant surprise,"
said Wilkens. "Obviously our staff did its homework. They
did an excellent job with the applications because these are
competitive grants, meaning that we are in competition with 87
other Ohio counties for these bridge funds which are allocated
based on a scoring system. Anytime we can bring federal tax dollars
back into Butler County, especially large amounts like this,
it frees up local funds to focus on other projects."
The grant for the Hamilton
New London Road bridge is $1,101,050 which is 95 percent of the
total estimated project cost of $1,159,000. Built in 1952, this
narrow two-lane structure spanning Indian Creek is now posted
with a 20-ton load limit. The bridge was closed for five months
in 1997 after high waters in the rain-swollen creek washed out
the bridge abutment and the adjoining roadway approach on the
bridge's east side.
The Reily Millville
Road bridge grant is for $990,850, or 95 percent of the total
estimated project cost of $1,043,000. This bridge was built in
1969 and also crosses Indian Creek. Although newer, the structure
has experienced an accelerated rate of deterioration in recent
Wilkens noted that
with a solid funding source in place, design and engineering
can now begin for both bridge replacements. Construction is slated
for 2011, which can't arrive too soon for BCEO Operations Manager
Scott Bressler whose snow and ice control crews must avoid crossing
the load-restricted Hamilton New London Road bridge with fully
loaded trucks. "It forces us to adjust our routes and approach
that one a little differently," he explained. "A fully
loaded salt truck is too heavy to safely cross the bridge. So
we have to treat that stretch of roadway at the end of the route
when the truck has been nearly emptied of its salt."
There are currently
only five load-restricted bridges for which the County has maintenance
responsibility. This is down from 34 posted bridges ten years
ago due to the Engineer's aggressive pursuit of outside funding
and a bridge safety program that addresses structural and capacity