Garrettsville – The break in winter weather we experienced last week was just what ODOT needed to take the wraps off the State Route 82 Bridge and re-open it to vehicle traffic… nine months after the old bridge was closed for demolition and reconstruction.
The new, rolled steel frame bridge spanning Eagle Creek at Windham and Main Streets (SR 82) opened on Thursday, February 17 after being closed since May 2010. The historic arch bridge that once linked motorists to downtown Garrettsville had been built in 1932.
“It has been a long and complicated struggle for everyone; especially the Main Street merchants,” stated Council President Rick Patrick.
The new bridge was originally scheduled to re-open in early October 2010, but the extensive demolition process, time-consuming detail work, weather problems and engineering snags accumulated, prolonging the bridge closure. In January 2011, ODOT engineer Craig Dunbar warned that bridgework had to be suspended throughout the remainder of winter, because concrete would not set unless we experienced several consecutive days of dry, above-40-degree-days. Considering the severity of this winter’s weather, Dunbar expected to get back to work in April, with the total project coming to completion in May, one year after the project began.
But that prolonged delay did not sit well with Patrick, who wanted to relieve local businesses and patrons from the inconvenience of the extended bridge closure. “I have been in contact with Craig Dunbar right from the beginning, and just recently had told him that enough is enough! The weather is getting warm enough to re-open for vehicles and we need to make it happen. Craig has been very cooperative throughout the whole project and agreed to do what it would take to get it reopened that week,” Patrick said.
A stretch of sunny, spring-like weather last week melted away the mounds of snow that had covered the bridge all winter, and allowed work crews to make saw-cuts across the deck of the bridge pavement, providing road surface traction. Plastic sheeting came down from around the bridge railings, allowing the concrete to cure in the sun. Roadblocks were removed, detour signs came down, and surprised motorists began crossing the new bridge on Thursday.
The noticeably wider bridge features baluster concrete railings and is illuminated by antique replica iron lamp-posts with etched-glass globes. It is open to motorists, but is not totally completed. Sidewalks, landscaping, concrete sealing and road striping have yet to be done, and a special dedication of two historical markers will be made in the late spring or early summer… and then the $1.8 million project will finally be done.