Waterville weighs bridge options PDF Print E-mail
Written by TARA KELLER Sentinel Staff Writer   
Friday, 28 March 2014 10:33
The Waterville bridge. (Photos: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
With the average lifespan of a bridge being 50 years, the Waterville Bridge will end its 75-plus year life one of three ways.
The Ohio Department of Transportation held a public meeting Thursday to discuss three alternatives for State Routes 64/65 bridge in Lucas and Wood counties, and to discuss a roundabout at the SR 64/65 intersection.  
All alternatives include a wider, two-lane bridge with 4-foot wide shoulders, a sidewalk and a shared-use path for walking or biking.
The existing truss bridge is considered "functionally obsolete" by ODOT because of insufficient lane widths and lack of adequate non-motorized facilities.
Because of a lack of redundancy, or fail-safes to keep the bridge operational if one support system were to fail, the bridge is considered "fracture critical," said Brad Noll, ODOT project manager.
"The more redundancy in a bridge, the safer it is," he said. "We don't want to get to that point where an accident happens and it takes out the bridge."
Alternative one (existing alignment) involves tearing down the original bridge and building a new one in its place. The estimated $15.2 million alternative requires nine months to a year of closure time.
Alternative two (parallel alignment) includes building the new bridge beside the existing bridge to decrease closure time and to demolish the original bridge after completion. This estimated $15.4 million alternative requires 30-45 days of closure time.
Alternative three (angled alignment) would move the bridge entry from its current place on Mechanic Street to Farnsworth Road a few blocks over with the bridge ending at the same location as the original on SR 65. This estimated $17 million alternative has the least amount of closure time of 14 days.
All three bridge alternatives will be state and federally-funded.
"In this project, we don't have a pre-existing opinion," said Theresa Pollick, ODOT information officer. "It's up to the people in this town. In this case, their opinion makes a difference."
Upwards of 75 people shared their opinions with ODOT personnel verbally and through comment sheets during the two-hour meeting.
People gather to look at and discuss the proposed roundabout and bridge replacement project in Waterville during a public meeting held Thursday afternoon at the Waterville Primary School.
Thanks to those comments, ODOT expects to select a preferred alternative next month with construction beginning in April of 2017.
All three alternatives have their pros and cons, and ODOT is hoping the community can come to a consensus, Pollick said.
Waterville resident William Fish prefers the third option (moving the bridge to Farnsworth Road) for two reasons - less closure time and it would "straighten out" SR 64.
As of now, westbound drivers on SR 64 have to turn left on the Anthony Wayne Trail to rejoin the state route at the Farnsworth Road intersection. If alternative three is chosen, then SR 64 would became a straight shot into town.
"This one seems sensible because you eliminate one traffic light," Fish said. "The least turns and stops, the better."
Unlike the first two alternatives, alternative three includes no demolition of existing functional properties as it only requires demolishing a vacant school building.
Some citizens support the first alternative, building a new bridge in the exact same place, for historical reasons. Because of the nostalgia associated with the bridge, ODOT has worked with the Waterville Historical Society to draw up some suitable replacements.
ODOT plans to match the railings from the front of the Columbian House to tie in the new bridge with the town's history.
Others proposed an alternative of their own - no new bridge.
"I don't want to see traffic and I don't want to see people lose prime farmland," said George Thompson of Holland. "A new bridge is needless, pointless and obsolete."
Along with a few other attendees, Thompson passed out a petition to keep the bridge and a copy of a letter to the editor about the bridge published March 26 in the Sentinel-Tribune.
In it, Thompson wrote how he believes ODOT will go ahead and make the bridge a four-lane, instead of the planned two, in order to form new exits and interchanges with I-75 and SR 20.
"ODOT's going to deny it," he said. "But they're really just making a bypass for a bypass."
ODOT personnel were also on-hand to answer questions about the new roundabout that will be completed with whichever alternative is chosen.
They said the SR 64/65 roundabout will ease traffic concerns and decrease the chances of serious accidents.
"The whole thinking behind roundabouts is to keep traffic moving and keep the flow going. They eliminate the severity of crashes because it slows the rate of speed, and if cars do hit, it's at an angle," Pollick said. "Especially in a three-way stop like this, the number one thing is safety."
To submit comments about the project, email them to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . They are due by April 10 for processing.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 March 2014 11:30

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