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* News Release *
 
Monday, February 25, 2008
For Immediate Release

OFFICIALS BREAK GROUND FOR NEW LIBERTY FAIRFIELD ROAD BRIDGE
Butler County's Biggest Bridge Replacement

Liberty Fairfield Road Bridge ground breaking. Click to enlarge.
Butler County officials gathered this morning to break ground for what will be the County's biggest bridge replacement in recent memory. Construction is set to begin next week on the new Liberty Fairfield Road bridge which crosses the Great Miami River halfway between Hamilton and Middletown. It is the only river crossing in that part of the County.

The new structure will be built on an entirely new alignment that will straighten the roadway approaches to the bridge, thus eliminating the dangerous curves now encountered by motorists approaching from both sides, but particularly on the north end where several S-curves have contributed to numerous accidents. "This is first and foremost about safety," said Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens. "When completed, we will have a new, safer bridge built to modern design standards that will transport traffic smoothly and more efficiently."

County Commissioner Charles Furmon echoed Wilkens' emphasis on safety. "Traffic on Liberty Fairfield and Wayne Madison Roads has increased substantially with new residential and commercial development north and south of the bridge. It is imperative that we maintain a safe river crossing at this location." Furmon also added that this project will serve to improve economic development opportunities in the Trenton area. "Butler County's business-friendly reputation takes another step forward with this project as we make lands north of the river more easily accessible," he said. "Due to the strategic location of this bridge, the movement of goods and services becomes more efficient making the Trenton area even more attractive to new and existing businesses."

Besides Commissioner Furmon and Engineer Wilkens, also on hand for the ground breaking were Commissioners Don Dixon and Greg Jolivette, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 8 Deputy Director Hans Jindal, Butler County MetroParks Director Jonathan Granville, and Paul Limpert and Dennis Cooper from Sunesis Construction.

Commissioner Dixon noted that this $10.3 million project is being built with only $312,716 in local money. The remainder of the funding is a combination of state and federal grant money obtained by the Engineer's Office through ODOT and the County Engineer's Association of Ohio. (See funding details below.) "Congratulations to Mr. Wilkens and his team for their hard work on this project and for developing the means to fund such an expensive undertaking," Dixon said.

Creative Funding Saves Butler County Taxpayers

Securing the revenue for what will not only be Butler County's biggest bridge replacement but its most expensive, was the most substantial hurdle to overcome, according to Wilkens. Through the efforts of an experienced Engineer's staff several outside funding sources were identified, lengthy and time-intensive applications were put together, and eventually the means to pay for such an expensive project came together.

The funding breakdown is as follows:

Right-of-Way / Pre-Construction

  • $1,000,000 = State OPWC funds

Construction

  • $5,000,000 = Federal funds through the County Engineer's Association of Ohio
  • $4,000,000 = Federal funds through the Ohio Department of Transportation
  • $1,000,000 = State OPWC funds (to be used as local federal match money)
  • $312,716 = Local BCEO funds (to be used as local match money)

"As you can see, Butler County is getting a $10.3 million bridge that is costing the local taxpayers only $312,716," Wilkens reiterated. "In today's climate of increasingly limited road and bridge construction revenues, we think this is a significant accomplishment. We are pleased to present our citizens with such a bargain."

Construction and Maintenance of Traffic

A construction contract for the project was awarded to Sunesis Construction of West Chester Township which submitted a low bid of $10,312,716. Crews will begin clearing and grubbing in early March with utility relocations starting by mid-April. Full bridge construction will get under way this summer and take about one year to complete.

Traffic can be maintained across the existing bridge during construction since the new structure will be built on an entirely new alignment approximately 300 feet upstream. That should be good news for local motorists, according to Wilkens. "The only closure will occur when the new bridge is completed and we tie the existing road in with the new roadway approaches. That is scheduled for August of 2009 and should only take about a week." Once traffic is shifted onto the new bridge, demolition of the old bridge will begin with the entire project wrapping up in late September 2009, weather permitting.

The new bridge structure will be an 818-foot seven-span continuous composite pre-stressed concrete I-beam designed to carry four lanes of traffic. Initially however it will be striped for three lanes -- two southbound and one northbound. Upon completion, over 100 trees will be planted in the project area which stretches from the hill on the south river bank to the Augspurger / Wayne Madison Road intersection on the north side. Liberty Fairfield Road becomes Wayne Madison Road north of the river.

History of the Woodsdale Bridge

The new bridge will replace a 633-foot concrete closed spandrel deck arch that, according to BCEO bridge records, was built in 1930 and rehabilitated in 1980. However, research by local historian Doris L. Page indicates that the bridge may have been built earlier. In her 1994 book titled Woodsdale's Story, she writes:

Existing Liberty Fairfield Road Bridge #03.803. Click to enlarge.

"It was....April of 1915 that bids for replacement of Woodsdale's bridge were studied.... The contract for a concrete bridge was awarded to Cleary & White Construction Company of Chicago in the amount of $76,784. The plan used was one designed by J.B. Hunley. Payments to Cleary & White were made in August, September, October, November, and December of 1915, with final payments made in February of 1916."

Page points out in her book that the bridge was built to replace a 1901 iron bridge which was
Original wooden covered bridge. Click to enlarge.
destroyed only twelve years later by the 1913 flood. That bridge cost $21,750 to construct.

A wooden covered bridge originally occupied this location. Built in the mid- to late 1850s, the covered bridge eventually became known as the Augspurger Bridge because of Samuel Augspurger's influence in its construction and subsequent repairs, according to Page. Eventually the years and the elements took a toll on the wooden bridge and it was razed in 1900 to make way for the iron bridge.

Development of a New Bridge

The Butler County Engineer's Office first began studying replacement of the current bridge in the early 1990s. Preliminary plans were drawn up and presented at a public meeting in June of 1998. As these plans were being modified, numerous hurdles had to be cleared, including the funding mechanisms noted above, significant environmental protection studies, flood plain volume compensation, how to handle fill compaction on the project's north side, and right-of-way negotiations.

One other significant factor is that the plans are in metric. "Design and engineering kicked off during a short window of time in the 1990s when the federal government required projects with federal funding to be in metric," said BCEO Engineering Deputy Dale Schwieterman. "To convert back to English would have required an expensive re-do of the plans. Unfortunately, it may make construction a bit more tedious since the contractor will need metric rulers and many items will require conversion."

Schweiterman chuckled when he noted that motorists need not fear -- while this may be a metric bridge, speed limits will be posted in miles per hour versus kilometers per hour.

Click on images to enlarge.
Existing bridge - northbound approach.
Southbound approach - S-curves to be eliminated.
Aerial view - S-curves to be eliminated.
Aerial - view south. ........................
Aerial - view north. .......................
Project plan overlay. Red indicates new alignment.

# # #

For more information contact:

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


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