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Long-sought bridge in Lawrence County nears completion

Jul. 16, 2013 @ 08:34 AM

IRONTON -- Even though it was rated Lawrence County's top priority bridge project, it took eight years to get the necessary federal funding and required permits to move forward on a $1.3 million bridge replacement along Lawrence Street Road (County Road 22).

Now, the end is in sight, with completion of the long-sought bridge project expected next month.

It was problems like the one encountered with the project that brought U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, to Lawrence County on Monday to meet with County Engineer Doug Cade to discuss federal partnerships that assist local governments in replacing critical infrastructure.

The bridge on Lawrence Street Road was closed, sometimes two or three times a year, when the Ohio River floods. Construction on the project to raise the bridge and roadway five feet started in June and could be finished next month, Cade said. Former County Engineer David Lynd applied for the federal funds for the bridge project in 2005, Cade said.

While it took several years for approval of the request for federal money to pay 80 percent of the project's costs, it then took more than a year for the Ohio Department of Transportation to sign off on its portion of the financing. Then six months was required to buy a small parcel of land for $600 to allow the project to proceed, Cade said. "We lost a construction season due to delays," he said.

Cade thanked Johnson for supporting federal funding for projects like the bridge replacement. "It's important at the local level."

"We need to make sure our bridges and highways are safe," Johnson said. "Let us know when we can help."

The project was let for bid last year and had to be rebid when the bids came in over estimates. It was put out for bid again last fall and finally approved, Cade said. DMG Construction Co. of Beaver, Ohio, was awarded the bid and could have started the work in April. Cade asked the contractor to delay the work until school was out for the year and the contractor agreed.

The work started in June and the contractor has 120 days to complete it, Cade said.

"We hope it can be done by mid-August when school opens again," he said.

If not, residents and school buses will have a hard time getting students to school, he said. When the road is closed, residents in a housing complex along Lawrence Street Road have to use a more dangerous route that connects to U.S. 52, he said.

The county also has been awarded $300,000 for a guardrail project along County Road 12 (Big Paddy Creek in Rome Township) and County Road 18 (Solida Road) in Fayette Township, Cade said. That project also is 80 percent funded by the Highway Safety Improvement Program, 10 percent in local funds and another 10 percent in state funds. The project will pay for about 8,000 feet of guardrail. "We hope it can be approved this fall."

While some projects take years to get funded, Cade said, the county will be able to repave County Road 1 and County 4 several years ahead of schedule.

Cade applied for federal funds for the paving work two years ago and it was scheduled to be blacktopped in 2017. Instead he was notified several weeks ago that the project was funded.

"We'll try to get it done this construction season, but most likely it will be done next year," Cade said. The project calls for 12 miles of County Road 1 in the Sheridan area to be paved up to Chesapeake. Eight miles of County Road 4 (Waterloo-Etna Road) also will be paved. Federal funds will pay for 80 percent of the project, the state will pay 10 percent and local funds will cover the rest, Cade said.