Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Contractor to retrieve fallen span from river

Old bridge dropped into Little Miami at Oregonia

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Warren County hired a contractor Tuesday to fish an old bridge out of the Little Miami River, a day after it collapsed.

        The wreckage could be removed by mid- to late April, County Engineer Neil Tunison said — before canoeists hit the river in force.

        The Old Oregonia Truss Bridge, which had been closed to vehicles for 11 years, and to foot traffic for three weeks, fell into the Little Miami early Monday.

        The county commissioners approved an emergency purchase order for $75,000 Tuesday to hire bridge builder Paul Lunsford Inc. of Hamilton. The emergency action enabled the county to avoid waiting three or more weeks while the project was put out to bid.

        The county wants to get the bridge out of the river as soon as possible, Mr. Tunison said, because it was paved with asphalt, a petroleum-based material that's not good for aquatic life.

        Also, two canoe liveries and private canoeists use that section of the Little Miami.

        Signs will be posted warn ing of the obstacle, Mr. Tunison said. Boaters will have to change their routes or land on the bank and carry their boats around the bridge until it's removed, Mr. Tunison said.

        “If that became a hazardous spot, we would just run from Fort Ancient down,” said Gary Morgan, owner of Morgan's Canoe Liveries, which opens for the season in April. Changing the route “is a typical situation that happens in the spring, whether it's for a bridge or a tree.”

        The one-lane steel bridge in the small community of Oregonia — about five miles east of Lebanon — was Warren County's oldest bridge, dating to 1883. It was thought to be the only Berlin Lenticular Truss bridge still standing in Ohio and one of just four in the nation.

        The county was planning to reinforce the bridge when it began to deteriorate quickly, Mr. Tunison said.

        Meanwhile, Butler County officials on Tuesday closed Ross Hanover Road in Millville because a bridge there had deteriorated. The bridge, about 0.2 mile east of U.S. 27, is to be replaced this spring, according to the Butler County Engineer's Office.


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