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* News Release *
 
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
For Immediate Release

NEW LIBERTY FAIRFIELD ROAD BRIDGE TO OPEN
Ceremony Recognizes Historic Woodsdale River Crossing

One of the biggest bridge projects in Butler County history is nearly complete and right on schedule, according to Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens. A ceremonial ribbon cutting was held today to commemorate the newly constructed Liberty Fairfield Road bridge, which spans the Great Miami River where four townships come together.

Officials from those townships -- St. Clair, Madison, Fairfield, and Liberty -- along with several State and local officials, joined Wilkens for this morning's ceremony which capped a massive year and a half long project that went very smoothly. The new bridge will open to traffic this Thursday, crews will construct a new connecting road to Canal Road, and can then begin the task of demolishing the old bridge which sits about 300 feet downstream. (For local access to adjacent streets during this final construction phase, see the Traffic Advisory for Liberty Fairfield Road on the Road Closings page.)

"Despite the complexity and huge scope of this project, we were able to keep traffic flowing across the old bridge while this new structure was being built," Wilkens said. "That was critical since this is the only river crossing between Hamilton and Middletown. It serves a growing area of residential and commercial development and provides important access to the Trenton area. Keeping business and commuter traffic flowing safely through the region is a top priority."

Also attending the celebration were Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jolene Molitoris; ODOT District 8 Deputy Director Hans Jindal; Butler County Commissioners Don Dixon, Greg Jolivette, and Chuck Furmon; officials from the surrounding townships and the City of Trenton; Butler County MetroParks Director Jonathon Granville; Rick Jones and Jeff Darrah from Sunesis Construction; along with local historians and representatives of the Woodsdale community.

History of the Woodsdale Bridge Crossing

Records indicate that this is the fourth bridge to be built over the Great Miami River at the historic Woodsdale crossing. According to research by historian Doris L. Page, who spoke at today's ceremony and authored the 1994 book titled Woodsdale's Story, 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. Eventually the years and the elements took a toll on the wooden bridge and it was razed in 1900 to make way for an iron bridge.

Completed in 1901 and costing a hefty $21, 750, the iron bridge was destroyed only twelve years later by the historic 1913 flood.

Ms. Page writes in her book: "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."

It is that bridge which is being replaced today. The graceful 633-foot concrete closed spandrel deck arch structure was rehabilitated in 1980 but has gradually deteriorated, is built on a skewed alignment, and is no longer practical for the increasing traffic volumes that flow across its surface every day.

Development of a New Bridge

The Butler County Engineer's Office first began studying replacement of the 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 funding issues, 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 initial plans were 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." This required the contractor to utilize metric rulers and perform many conversions....a time-consuming but necessary undertaking.

The New Liberty Fairfield Road Bridge

The new Liberty Fairfield Road structure is built on an entirely new alignment that straightens the roadway approaches to the bridge, thus eliminating the dangerous curves encountered by motorists approaching from both sides, but particularly on the north end where several S-curves had contributed to numerous accidents. Traffic signals will also be installed this fall just north of the bridge at the intersection of Wayne Madison Road and Augspurger Road.

"This is first and foremost about safety," Wilkens said at the new bridge groundbreaking on February 25, 2008. "When completed, we will have a new, safer bridge built to modern design standards that will transport traffic smoothly and more efficiently."

That new, safer bridge is now in place today. Here are some interesting facts about the structure:

  • Contractor: Sunesis Construction of West Chester Township
  • Contract price: $10,312,716
  • Funding: Federal, State, local BCEO
  • Total project length: 2,787 feet or 0.53 mile
  • Bridge length: 818 feet
  • Bridge height: 54 feet above average water level
  • Width/lanes: Designed to carry four lanes of traffic. Will initially be striped for three lanes -- two southbound and one northbound
  • Bridge type: 7-span continuous composite pre-stressed concrete I-beam with reinforced concrete deck and reinforced concrete substructure
  • Tons of reinforcing steel: 370
  • Tons of concrete: 11,233
  • Tons of asphalt (entire project length): 11,424
  • Number of pre-stressed concrete I-beams: 63
  • Average daily traffic count (2008): 18,000 vehicles per day (11 percent trucks)
  • Notable green factoid: Over 100 new trees will be planted in the project area

Creative Funding Saves Butler County Taxpayers

Securing the revenue for Butler County's biggest and most expensive bridge replacement ever 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 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. Very little local money is even being used for the $10 million project.

Here is a breakdown of the funding:

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 based on original contract price (to be used as local match money)

Wilkens pointed out at the 2008 groundbreaking: "As you can see, Butler County is getting a $10.3 million bridge that is costing the local taxpayers only $312,716. 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."

Images

A sampling of photos, including the ribbon cutting ceremony. For an extensive list of bridge construction images, please visit the Liberty Fairfield Road Bridge photo page.

Click on images to enlarge.
Original wooden covered bridge. .
1915 bridge being replaced by today's new bridge.
Project plan overlay. Red indicates new alignment.
Liberty Fairfield Road Bridge ground breaking.
Pier construction.
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Setting beams.
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Near completion.
Near completion.
Near completion.
County and State officials flank local historian Doris Page as they prepare for the ribbon cutting.
The ribbon has been cut and the new bridge is now official.
.
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County Engineer Greg Wilkens, Doris Page, ODOT District 8 Deputy Director Hans Jindal, ODOT Director Jean Molitoris.
County Engineer Greg Willkens with various local and State officials.
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Local historian Doris Page on the new bridge with the old bridge in the background.
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ODOT District 8 Deputy Director Hans Jindal, County Engineer Greg Wilkens, ODOT Director Jolene Molitoris.
# # #

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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