Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Where worst bridges are


Counties and municipalities can't keep up with repairs

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The day workers closed a Clermont County bridge in Stonelick Township because of its state of disrepair last March, it collapsed.

        Disaster was averted, but Clermont County Engineer Carl Hartman, one of many Tristate officials struggling with deteriorating bridges and finding a way to pay for repairing them, wonders what would've happened if he'd waited just one more day.

        “Somebody would've been in major trouble,” said Mr. Hartman. “We've had to close seven bridges in the last eight years, and that's too many. But we have no way to pay for it, which puts us on the cutting edge too much, like that bridge.”

[photo] The Waldvogel Viaduct is among Hamilton County bridges that are rated “structurally deficient.”
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        An Enquirer analysis of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana bridge data collected by the Federal Highway Administration through 1999 shows that bridges maintained by the three states' highway departments are generally in good shape, but those maintained by counties or municipalities are lagging in upkeep.

        For example, of the 392 bridges maintained by Clermont County, 157 are considered “load deficient,” or unable to handle vehicles that can use the road leading into the bridge.

        Mr. Hartman said the county has 59 bridges that are restricted for weights below that of a modern fire engine. School buses can't go across 15 of the bridges.

        “In a lot of cases, we're barely holding these bridges together,” said Glenn Sprowls, executive director of the County Engineers Association of Ohio.

        A similar analysis by the Associated Press, with data through July 2000, showed that 29 percent of nearly 600,000 bridges nationwide were deemed either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, which can mean anything from not having wide enough lanes, to being one-way, to not handling its traffic load.

        There were nearly 33,000 Ohio bridges listed on the 1999 database, with the state Department of Transportation responsible for about 15,000 of those.

        The remainder are maintained by counties and municipalities, and more than 15 percent of those are structurally deficient, according to the Enquirer analysis. The national rate for 1999 was 12.8 percent. In Kentucky, 8.1 percent of the state's 15,000 or so bridges are considered structurally deficient, the analysis found. But 16 percent of the more than 6,300 bridges overseen by counties or cities are deficient.

        “If we replaced all the bridges that were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, it would cost us $1.5 billion,” said Don Herd, transportation engineer for bridge maintenance for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “All these bridges are safe, as long as the posted weight limits are obeyed, or they would be shut down.”

        Clermont County's bridges are by far the worst in the Tristate. Mr. Hartman attributed that to the county's semi-rural nature and smaller tax base.

        Butler County is also struggling, with 50 of the county's 369 bridges — or 13.6 percent — considered in disrepair, according to County Engineer Greg Wilkens.

        In fact, last weekend, county officials had to close the bridge on Taylor School Road on the Wayne Township and St. Clair Township line. Officials plan to spend about $1 million to replace it within the next two years.

        “The deck and the beams holding up the deck were rusting and deteriorating. They got to the point where they became unsafe,” Mr. Wilkens said.

        Other Greater Cincinnati counties and municipalities are keeping up, officials say, because of the urban nature of the area and the higher-than-normal tax base.

        In Kenton, Campbell and Boone counties in Northern Kentucky, 154 bridges are locally maintained, with load restrictions posted on just 9 percent of those. Campbell is the worst of the three counties, with weight limits on six of 50 local bridges.

        “They'll worsen without proper maintenance, but at this point we're able to do the proper maintenance,” said Ken Schultz, Campbell County Road Department's transportation director.

        Hamilton County maintains 511 bridges, and only eight are structurally deficient. The city of Cincinnati maintains another 128, and only six are structurally deficient, and only one — the Waldvogel Viaduct connecting the Sixth Street Expressway to Price Hill — is posted with a weight limit.

        Warren County also rates better than the national average, with 9 percent of the county's 372 bridges listed in need of major rehabilitation or replacement.

        “We've been pretty aggressive in replacing bridges throughout the county over the past several years,” Warren County Engineer Neil Tunison said. “A lot of counties would like to be where we are in terms of the percentage of bridges that actually need repair.”

        Mr. Hartman is in one of those counties searching for money for repairs. The 65-foot Bushy Creek Road bridge has since been replaced for $250,000, but Mr. Hartman knows eventually another bridge in the county will go bad.

        The Clermont County Commission is holding public hearings this spring on the possibility of a referendum that would, if approved, place an additional $5 fee on license plates for road and bridge maintenance.

        Mr. Hartman hopes the measure will make it on the ballot and pass, but he is resigned to the possibility that it won't.

        “If we did it when we could've in 1968, we would have generated $20 million, and that goes a long way,” he said.

       Enquirer reporters Patrick Stack, Kevin Aldridge, Earnest Winston and Susan Vela and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
       

Where the bad bridges are:

       Here are bridge statistics through the end of 1999, and lists by county of individual bridges listed as structurally deficient, or unable to handle the same weight as the roadway it serves.

Butler county

        Total bridges: 393
        Structurally deficient*: 53
        • Allen Road over I-75, 1.14 miles north of Hamilton County line.
        • I-75 over Conrail Railroad, 4.05 miles north of Hamilton County line.
        • Ohio 129 over Great Miami River in Hamilton.
        • Ohio 732 over Little Indian Creek, 2.71 miles north of Ohio 129.
        • Elk Creek Road over Elk Creek Branch, 0.7 miles north of Ohio 122.
        • Liberty Fairfield Road over Great Miami River.
        • Reily Millville Road over stream, 0.2 miles east of County Road 244.
        • Ross Hanover Road over Indian Creek Branch, 0.2 miles east of U.S. 27.
        • Somerville Road over Williams Run, 0.1 mile west of U.S. 127.
        • Trenton Franklin Road over Browns Run, 0.7 mile south of Ohio 4.
        • Yankee Road over Dicks Creek, 0.1 mile south of Ohio 146.
        • North B Street over Two Mile Creek.
        • Bauer Road over stream, 0.8 mile east of County Road 180.
        • Bonham Road over Talawanda Creek
        • Canal Road over stream, 0.1 mile east of Campbell Ave.
        • California Road over Howards Creek.
        • California Road over Dry Fork Creek.
        • Corso Road over Ranch Talawanda Creek, 0.1 mile north of Ohio 732.
        • Darrtown Road over stream, 11 miles south of Ohio 130.
        • Fairfield Road over Indian Creek, 0.1 mile east of Indiana state line.
        • Frazee Road over Williams Run, north of intersection with Ohio 265.
        • Gates Road over stream at intersection of Ohio 411.
        • Hamilton/New London Road over Dry Run, 0.1 mile north of County Road 42.
        • Hart Road over stream, 0.2 mile north of Ohio 129.
        • Hine Road over stream 0.5 mile east of TR 174.
        • Hinkle Road over Browns Run, 0.7 mile north of TR 83
        • Hinkle Road over Browns Run, 0.2 mile south of county line.
        • Howe Road over stream, 0.3 mile west of County Road 81.
        • Indian Creek Road over Indian Creek, 0.5 mile north of County Road 36.
        • Indian Creek Road, 0.8 mile north of County Road 36.
        • Layhigh Road over Dry Run, 0.3 mile west of County Road 30.
        • Layhigh Road over Dry Run, 0.8 mile south of County Road 30.
        • Lesourd W. Chest Road over Gregory Creek, 0.2 mile south of Ohio 4.
        • Maud Hughes Road over Gregory Creek, 0.7 mile north of TR 21
        • Meyers Road over Browns Run, just east of TR 88.
        • Mill Road over Elk Creek, 0.2 mile east of TR 26.
        • Millikin Road over Gregory Creek, 0.5 mile east of TR 131.
        • Morgan Ross Road over Paddys Run, 0.1 mile north of Ohio 126.
        • Morganthaler Road over Cotton Run, 0.4 mile west of County Road 24
        • Okeana-Drewersburg Rd over Dry Fork Creek, 0.6 mile west of Ohio 126.
        • Schoenling Road over Lees Creek, at intersection of TR 211.
        • Schradin Road over Howards Creek.
        • Scott Road over Darrs Run, 0.6 mile east of Ohio 177.
        • Smith Road over stream, 0.1 mile west of Ohio 128.
        • Smith Road over Mill Creek Branch, 0.1 mile east of Ohio 747.
        • Stahlheber Road over stream, at intersection of TR 206.
        • Stillwell Road over Reserve Run, 0.6 mile east of Ohio 732.
        • Stillwell Road over stream, 0.3 mile east of TR 207.
        • Stout Road over Indian Creek Branch, 0.1 mile north of TR 51.
        • Taylor School Road over Seven Mile Creek.
        • Garage with hydraulic, no other data.
        • Central Avenue with Tail Race, no other data.
        • Winton Road over Pleasant Run tributary, 0.2 mi. south of Nilles Road.

Clermont County

        Total bridges: 370
        Structurally deficient*: 47
        • SR 48 over the tributary to O'Bannon Creek, 2.8 miles north of the junction of SR 28
        • SR 727 over Stonelick Creek, 2.3 miles south of SR 133
        • Over Guest Run, no other data
        • Over Lucy Run, no other data
        • Over Moores Fork, no other data
        • Over Patterson Run, no other data
        • Over O'Bannon Creek, no other data
        • Township Road 170 over stream (closed), 0.5 mile north of junction with County Road 133
        • Over stream, no other data
        • Over Twelve Mile Creek, no other data
        • Over stream, no other data
        • Over Sugar Creek, no other data
        • Over Norfolk and Western Railroad, no other data
        • Township Road 233 over Dryrun Creek, 0.5 mile north of junction with Ohio 50.
        • County Road 181 over O'Bannon Creek, 0.5 mile north of junction with Ohio 28.
        • Over stream, no other data
        • Over Painters Fork, no other data
        • Over Ten Mile Creek, no other data
        • Over Rocky Run, no other data
        • Over Pond Run, no other data
        • Over Ten Mile Creek, no other data
        • Over stream, no other data
        • Closed, no other data
        • Over stream, no other data
        • County Road 51 over stream, 0.5 mile east of junction with Ohio 743.
        • Over O'Bannon Creek, no other data
        • Over stream, no other data
        • Over stream, no other data
        • County Road 13 over stream, 1 mile south of junction with Ohio 125.
        • Over stream, no other data
        • Over stream, no other data
        • Over stream, no other data
        • Over Brushy Fork, no other data
        • Over Little Indian Creek, no other data
        • Over Maple Creek, no other data
        • Over stream, no other data
        • Over stream, no other data
        • Over Bullskin, no other data
        • Over Shalyor Run, no other data
        • Over Bullskin, no other data
        • Over Slickaway Run, no other data
        • County Road 72 over Twelve Mile Creek, 1.5 miles west of Ohio 222.
        • Over Bear Creek, no other data
        • Closed, no other data
        • Over Sugartree Creek, no other data
        • Price Road over stream, no other data

Hamilton County

        Total bridges: 1,234
        Structurally deficient*: 33
        • U.S. 22 over Cross County Highway, 0.4 miles west of Ohio 126.
        • U.S. 50 over Rapid Run, 3.11 miles east of addyston
        • Sixth Street Expressway over U.S. 50, Ohio 264 and State Street, 0.12 mile east of junction with Ohio 264.
        • U.S. 50 to I-471 and Third Street**
        • U.S. 50 .3 miles east of I-471**
        • U.S. 50 westbound ramp at Monastery Street, at I-471**
        • Ohio 126 over north branch of Sycamore Creek, 2 miles east of Interstate 71
        • Northbound I-71 over Broadway, 0.07 miles south of U.S. 50
        • Eastbound I-74 over tributary to Taylor Creek, 1.4 miles east of Ohio 128
        • Over Great Miami River, no other data
        • Over creek, no other data
        • Over creek, no other data
        • County Road 150 over Schnapps Creek
        • Over Schnapps Creek, no other data
        • Over West Fork Creek, no other data
        • Over creek, no other data
        • Over Little Duck Creek, no other data
        • Over creek, no other data
        • Over Eight Mile Creek, no other data
        • Over Five Mile Creek, no other data
        • Seven Gables Road over creek, no other data
        • Eighth Street over Mill Creek Railroad and Evans Street, 0.2 miles west of the intersection of Dalton and Eighth
        • Kennedy Ave. over Penn Central Railroad, 0.7 miles south of the intersection of Montgomery and Kennedy
        • Plainville Road over Little Duck Creek, 800 feet south of Plainville and Madison
        • Over the west fork of the Mill Creek, no other data
        • Penn Central Railroad at milepost 112, no other data
        • Kenton Street over Florence Ave., at intersection of Gilbert and Kenton
        • William Howard Taft over Penn Central Railroad at I-71 overpass
        • Erie Ave. over N. & W. Railroad, 200 feet south of the intersection of Ashworth and Erie
        • Red Bank Road over the Chessie System rail at the intersection of Tompkins and Red Bank Road
        • Gest St. over Conrail, 700 feet north of the intersection of Mehry and Wyoming and Gest
        • Lock Street over the tributary to east fork of Mill Creek, 0.1 mile east of Wyoming Ave.
        • Koehler/Davis Street over east fork of Mill Creek, 0.05 mile east of the I-75 exit

Warren County

        Total bridges: 404
        Structurally deficient*: 18
        • Ohio 48 over north fork of Turtle Creek, 0.15 mile north of junction with U.S. 42
        • Ohio 48 over Clear Creek, 1.9 miles south of junction with Ohio 73.
        • Ohio 73 over Beech Run, a tributary to Clear Creek, 0.8 mile west of SR 48
        • Ohio 123 over tributary to Clear Creek, 0.5 mile south of junction with Ohio 73
        • Ohio 132 over tributary to Todd Fork, 0.7 mile south of junction with Ohio 133
        • Over branch of Turtle Creek, no other data
        • Over branch of Little Miami River
        • County Road 22 over Little Twin Creek, 1 mile west of Ohio 741
        • Over Salt Run, no other data
        • Over Fall Run, no other data
        • Over Hen Run, no other data
        • Over Muntz Run, no other data
        • Over branch of Little Miami River, no other data
        • Over Branch of Little Miami River, no other data
        • Over Salt Run, no other data
        • Over branch of Todds Fork, no other data
        • Over Flat Fork, no other data
        • Over branch of Little Miami River, no other data
       *Structurally deficient means the bridge cannot handle the same weight as the roadway it serves.
        **Viaduct being replaced by city of Cincinnati
        Source: The Federal Highway administration
       



- Where worst bridges are
Train warned before wreck
Fuel spill threatens wells in Carlisle
31 merit finalists call Sycamore home
Bush stresses school accountability
RADEL: Can't find a darned barn in the county
Restricting drug draws praise, fire
Xenia police play roles to trap online predators
Health levy's price hidden
Hoxworth makes emergency appeal
Deerfield puts limits on talk at meetings
Slain girl's mom unleashes fury
Accused drug dealer surrenders
City targets junked cars on streets
Covington schools settle on Moreland
CROWLEY: Rumor mill
'Handyman' pleads not guilty
Henrys told it's a girl
House panel approves litter bill
Ohio asks for execution date
Program at UC steers blacks toward degrees
Testimony to begin in street slaying
Tetanus vaccine available here in limited amounts
Woman pleads guilty to defrauding banks
Kentucky News Briefs
Tristate A.M. Report