By MARK TODD - firstname.lastname@example.org
State highway officials will be in Conneaut next week for a public meeting to discuss impacts of a pending Route 20 bridge replacement project.
Representatives of the Ohio Department of Transportation will hold the informational session between 5-7 p.m. Tuesday at the Amboy United Methodist Church, 554 W. Main Road (Route 20) in Conneaut. The church sits a few steps from the east side of the bridge, which links Conneaut and North Kingsville.
People can visit any time during the two-hour period, said Justin Chesnic, ODOT District 4 spokesman in Akron.
“It will be an open house format,” Chesnic said. “People can look at displays and ask questions.”
The bridge will be demolished and rebuilt in a project estimated to cost $13.5 million, Chesnic said. ODOT plans to sell the project to a contractor in October or November 2014, he said. Work will commence a short time later and continue through the 2014-2015 winter season. Construction should be completed by November 2015, Chesnic said.
ODOT expects the bridge will be closed to traffic soon after the work is sold to a contractor, meaning it could be out of commission for many months. “The work is going to require a pretty long closure,” Chesnic said.
While local traffic will be able to use side roads to bypass the work site, big trucks will probably use a detour comprised of Interstate 90, Route 7 in Conneaut and Route 193 in North Kingsville to navigate, Chesnic said. ODOT routinely schedules public meetings for projects that will disrupt traffic for long periods of time, he said.
The viaduct is nearly 90 years old, according to news accounts. Its last major overhaul came in 1979, when the bridge received a new deck.
“It’s an older bridge with a detailed and different design,” Chesnic said.
Because the bridge spans Norfolk Southern Railway tracks, special consideration must be given train traffic, especially during the demolition phase of the project, officials have said.
People who can’t attend the meeting but wish to comment on the project can send their remarks to: Edward W. Deley, Jr., District 4 Environmental Coordinator, Ohio Department of Transportation, 2088 S. Arlington Road, Akron, OH 44306-4243. Comments must be received by Nov. 22.