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Restoration of historic Logan County bridge draws controversy

The Logan County Engineer’s Office is planning to rehabilitate a single-lane bridge on County Road 21 that was built in 1800s at a cost of $2.1 million, but some local residents said they would rather just see a new two-lane bridge.

“I don’t care if they restore the bridge, but put a bridge beside there we can use without worrying about getting hit,” Logan County resident Dick Burchett said.

Burchett lives just a few hundred yards down from the bridge and said there are a lot of near accidents on the bridge. He added the sight lines are not good, especially for a single lane.

“Safety is my main concern,” he said.

The engineer’s office applied for funds to restore the bridge in 2009. The county would pay 20 percent of the $2.1 million cost. Construction is planned to start in 2015 and be completed by the spring of 2016.

Logan County Engineer Scott Coleman said the restoration of the bridge is a 20-year project in the making.

“We have replaced most of the bridges around,” he said. “The idea was to come back and save this last iron truss in the county.”

Ohio-based Massillon Bridge Company built the “Great Miami River Bridge” in 1882. According to the Ohio Department of Transportation’s 2011 historic bridge survey report, there were only 13 double-intersection Pratt through trusses, or Whipple trusses, left in Ohio. “Whipple trusses were among the most successful of long-span through truss designs (up to 300 feet long) of the 1860s until about 1890,” the report said. The survey also said the bridge had “high significance.”

“This is the one we have the opportunity to be able to save for future generations to enjoy for transportation and as a landmark for a company that built trusses in Ohio,” Coleman said.

Burchett said he has neighbors who have to drive five miles to get their farm equipment across the river because the bridge is too small.

Coleman said he has heard concerns from the community and had added two possibilities for the intersection he would like to discuss with community members this spring.

One option, to address the the safety of the bridge, is to build a new turn into the bridge on the west side to help with sight-lines. Coleman estimates it would cost an additional $700,000, and he believes he could get funds for the new alignment by the time construction is expected to start.

The second option would be to build a new two-lane bridge to the north of the where the current iron truss is. Coleman said this project would cost around $4 million and would take seven to eight years to complete.

Coleman has not set a date for a meeting to discuss the options.

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