June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Complication holds up bridge work

The bridge work on East Smith Road in Montville Township will take longer to complete after workers found a problem with the conrete foundation. (DAN POMPILI / GAZETTE)

The bridge on East Smith Road has been closed to through traffic since early September and now a complication means drivers will have to wait to at least the end of this month for it to open.

A structural problem led to a change in the contract with Lake Erie Construction, out of Norwalk, and work has been stopped since last month while county officials deal with paperwork and red tape.

“It was supposed to be an end-of-September completion date, but by having to do this other work, we’ve had to wait for a new proposal and discuss the details and wait for ODOT approval,” Medina County Engineer Mike Salay said.

The project has added to the frustration of motorists trying to get to or from Interstate 71 along state Route 18 during an Ohio Department of Transportation resurfacing project that has reduced the lanes and slowed traffic on that main artery since August.

When replacing guardrail posts on the Smith Road bridge, workers removed the asphalt overlay and found problems in the concrete foundation, Salay said.

They will have to stabilize the deck and cover it with finished concrete instead of asphalt, he said.

“We’re extending the life of the bridge quite a bit by using the dense concrete,” Salay said.

The bridge is one of about a dozen projects countywide funded with $432,000 from the Federal Highway Administration and administered by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Salay was not able to provide the specific cost of the Smith Road project on Friday.

He said the bridge project might have been started earlier in the year but work on River Styx Road pushed the bridge project back.

With the bridge closed for more than a month, some residents have grown impatient.

“There’s no way the work should have taken this long,” said Ron Nelson of Champion Creek Boulevard, which is near the closure. “I’ve built construction projects and I know the work they’ve done could have been done in two weeks.”

Nelson is owner of the Medina Laser Car Wash on state Route 18.

Nelson said he worries about emergency responders’ access to his neighborhood. Champion Creek is cut off from access to River Styx Road — the shortest route from the Montville Township Fire Department.

“There’s nothing we can do or say to change his opinion,” Salay said of Nelson. “It’s a bridge that needs some work, and one we’re going to be able to repair and extend the life of it and get it fully funded.”

The last hurdle will be cleared when county commissioners approve the contract changes, which they are expected to do Tuesday.

Work should begin Wednesday, Salay said, and be complete by the end of the month.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.