Photo: Estelle R. Brown

Garrettsville – ‘Good things come to those who wait.’ So the saying goes. But for those waiting for the Windham Street (State Route 82) Bridge to open for traffic, patience is a virtue that will have to be exercised for at least four more months.

Initially, ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) engineer Craig Dunbar set October 1, 2010 as the completion date for the Garrettsville bridge project. Then, due to weather delays, ODOT issues and county engineer complications, the completion date was set back to the end of November. Then it was re-set to sometime before the holidays… and now “we’re looking at sometime in May 2011 for the bridge project to be completely done,” Dunbar says.

Possibly — if the weather warms up to at least 40 degrees and stays dry for a string of consecutive days — the bridge could open to vehicle traffic later this winter but remain closed to foot traffic until late spring.

Last week, the eight-man crew erected a concrete railing along the east side of the steel-beamed bridge. This week, they have been working under the cover of heated plastic sheeting to erect the west-side railing. Most likely, workers will take a break from bridgework until after winter’s grip begins to thaw, most likely resuming their work in April.

Dunbar says that several steps need to be taken before the new bridge opens:

1)Saw cuts need to be made across the deck of the bridge pavement in order to provide road surface traction;

2)Pavement markings need to be painted when the surface reaches 40 degrees or better;

3)Concrete sidewalks need to be poured;

4)Four antique-style iron street lamps need to be erected;

5)All surface concrete must be painted off-white.

Work began in May 2010 to demolish the deteriorating arch bridge that spanned Eagle Creek and connected drivers to downtown Garrettsville. It was expected to take six-to-nine months to replace it.

Despite setbacks, the $1.8 million venture will eventually produce a rolled steel frame bridge spanning Eagle Creek with a concrete facade similar to the original historic bridge erected in 1932, featuring baluster railings illuminated by street lights reminiscent of those removed from the old bridge.

“This bridge has required a lot of detail work,” Dunbar reports. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s not really an arch bridge. It just looks like one.”