Fourteen bridges, costing an estimated $829,921, are slated for replacement this year in Auglaize County.
The projects are to be completed based on when easements can be maintained and utilities cleared, Auglaize County Engineer Doug Reinhart said.
This year’s schedule includes more smaller projects, because it is what they can afford with less revenue, the county engineer said. The investment for most of this year’s projects is just concrete and steel.
For the first time in 30 years, Reinhart is taking out a loan for the work on the two largest bridges.
“I’m not comfortable with taking a loan out for the first time, but in this case I have to,” Reinhart said. “I don’t want to create debt for the county or the next engineer, but it adds up to me needing to move forward with this.”
The loan covers the bridges on Salem-Noble Road west of County Road 66A and Deep Cut Road over the Miami and Erie Canal. The loan is needed because of their size, they require a contractor, although, Reinhart said his crews will perform as much of the work as they can.
The bridge on Salem-Noble is to have its 66-foot prestressed box beams replaced and deck widened by 3 feet to 27 feet at a cost of $120,483.
The bridge over the Miami and Erie Canal on Deep Cut Road is to have its existing steel floor system replaced at an estimated cost of $190,300.
The 20-year loan for the work is from the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) at zero percent interest. It is to be repaid at less than $9,000 annually.
Two bridges slated for replacement by the county this year are to utilize concrete beams precast by the county. One is on Amsterdam Road east of Tri-Township Road at a cost of $87,850 and the other on Townline-Kossuth Road south of Lock 14 Road at a cost of $98,600.
“Where we can we are utilizing the precast beams,” Reinhart said, explainging that because of their longer spans, two sets of beams are being used on each bridge.
Seven of the bridges are to be replaced using three-sided manufactured concrete boxes made by crews with the county garage on South Blackhoof Street.
“In most cases, we are replacing large diameter steel pipe installed in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s,” Reinhart said. “We have replaced several the last few years and they were all very corroded.”
He said they are concentrating on replacing the culverts before they fail.
Culverts being replaced include two on Winner Road east of Mercer County at a cost of $47,500 and $45,000, one on Vogel Road east of Townline-Kossuth Road at a cost of $43,000, Fryburg East Road east of Townline-Lima Road at a cost of $42,000, Boundary Road north of Ohio 67 at a cost of $47,500, and Fairmount Road west of Ohio 196 at a cost of $42,000.
Deck rehabilitation is planned for bridges on North Corporation Road west of East Shelby for $7,101, Moulton Angle Road west of Moulton Knoxville for $9,965, and Holtkamp Road east of East Shelby for $6,622.
Reinhart said the bridges, built mostly in the early 1960s or early 1970s, before waterproofing was common practice, are to have their asphalt decks removed and concrete rehabilitated, then be waterproofed with a special membrane.
“It should add 20 years to the life of each structure by doing this now,” Reinhart said.
Proud that none of the county’s 347 bridges are posted with load restrictions, he said with revenue low, it may not be long before they are.
“We’re OK now with funding but we will get critical at some point in time,” Reinhart said. “We are sixth in the state in the number of bridges in the county, fortunately, over half those are small spans so we can utilize boxes and beams we pour in house,” Reinhart said.
In an average county, 10 to 15 percent of its bridges are posted, Reinhart said, sharing that county engineers are responsible for maintaining 29,000 bridges throughout Ohio.
The bridge closest to needing load restrictions in Auglaize County now is over the St. Marys River by the Con Ag stone quarry and is set to be replaced next year through a $400,000 federally funded project.
Reinhart said he wishes county crews could take care of more of the longer bridges in the county and he estimated that they could do it at half the price in-house.
When a project does require federal funding, it can be a five-year process with a lot of paperwork.
Each bridge in the county is inspected annually by the county’s bridge engineer Dan Bennett and reviewed by Reinhart before a report is forwarded on to the state.
“There are 60 different parameters we inspect and rate to come up with an overall rating for each bridge,” Reinhart said. “It’s not an exact science, but it is as good as it gets.”
Bennett, a certified bridge inspector, is training Andrew Baumer, a new engineer with the county office, as part of the required two years of inspection experience he must complete to become certified. Bennett, who has nearly 40 years of experience on the job, may be retiring within the next couple years, Reinhart said.
Having a certified inspector on staff is a huge savings to the county, especially one with Bennett’s expertise, Reinhart said.
While planned projects for the year are small, the season, which gets underway the first week of April and lasts through Thanksgiving, is expected to be busy. The length of the season is based on when asphalt plants are open.
“Usually there is a surprise or two in the mix,” Reinhart said. “Steel bridges are easier to analyze because you can see all of them. Concrete requires a lot of educational analysis because you can’t see. We really pay attention to when we remove a structure. Either it is better or much, much worse than we expected.”
Reinhart estimated that approximately 75 percent of parts being made by the county for the bridges are expected to be cast by March. Through the winter they are pouring concrete for the bridges almost every day.