The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

October 13, 2012

ODOT hopes to speed up Route 20 overpass project

Work set to start in 2015 could be moved up one year

CONNEAUT — There’s still a chance construction of a new Route 20 overpass linking Conneaut and North Kingsville could begin in 2014, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman said Friday afternoon.

Brent Kovacs, of ODOT’s District 4 in Akron, confirmed reports the project has officially been pushed back to 2015, but held out hope work could start much sooner. “The good news is we’re trying to expedite it and sell it in 2014,” he said.

The project is estimated to cost $14 million, Kovacs said.

Earlier this week, City Manager Tim Eggleston said he had been informed by ODOT that work on the bridge wouldn’t commence until 2015, one year later than anticipated. Eggleston said he was told the state needed more design time and also had to work with the Norfolk Southern Railway on the demolition of the span. The bridge lifts traffic over NS tracks.

City Council members were upset by the news.

“Come out, look at this bridge and  tell  me  it   can   wait   until

2015,” Councilman Neil LaRusch said this week. “This is a safety risk and doesn’t make a good entranceway into the city. I refuse to let that happen.”

A few days later, LaRusch said he was “somewhat optimistic” the bridge project could start sooner than expected, but was still worried about the hazards posed to motorists from debris that falls from the span’s crumbing railings. The railings have been shedding concrete the past few years, and chunks of the material often litter the sidewalk and highway. The steady deterioration has exposed the railings’ steel reinforcement rods.

“It looks horrible, but it’s more than just a cosmetic issue,” LaRusch said. “It’s a safety issue.”

Kovacs confirmed the start date was shoved back one year for additional design work.

“(The project) was to be sold and worked on in 2014 but has been delayed to 2015,” he said. “It’s one of the larger bridges in the district and it has a complex design. Extra time is needed to design it.”

The bridge was built around 1940, according to news accounts. The span’s last extensive make-over came in 1982, when the deck, rails and supports were repaired. That project closed the bridge more than four months and cost $450,000.

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