BUSINESS

Input sought for new river bridge

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

A public meeting was held Monday evening to receive feedback on the preferred alternative for a new Maumee River bridge in Napoleon.

The planning for a second river bridge in the city began in 2002 and a public meeting was held in 2004 to seek public input on four potential locations for the new bridge. Based on the input from that meeting, two of those options were explored further - extending Industrial Drive to the south to cross the river and connect at State Route 110 and extending Enterprise Drive (Road 12) to the south side of the river. The Industrial Drive corridor has since been determined as the preferred route for the proposed bridge, and the meeting on Monday was held to receive public comments on that route.

Patrick Etchie, chief planner/grant strategist for the Mannik Smith Group, presented an overview of the project and explained the original discussions in 2002 centered on having a second bridge built before the State Route 108 bridge was demolished and rebuilt.

However, Henry County Engineer Tim Schumm said there wasn’t enough time.

“Essentially, the (Rte.) 108 bridge was in such poor condition that they couldn’t wait that long to build a new bridge,” he said.

The project slowed after that, although planning efforts continued through approximately 2010, when it was put on hold due to the recession and lack of funding. In 2012, the Henry County Transportation Improvement District was formed, and work on the project picked up again as grant funds were received.

Etchie explained there were multiple reasons why the Industrial Drive location was chosen as the preferred route, including the fact that, in addition to being the most direct connection to the industrial areas, it also connects to the U.S. Route 6/24 interchange. Also, the construction costs for the Industrial Drive location - approximately $15 million - are lower than the estimated $19.4 million for the Enterprise Avenue location. The increased cost is due to a wider river crossing at the Enterprise Avenue location and more of the surrounding area is a floodplain. Furthermore, the Industrial Drive location is estimated to draw the most traffic away from the Rte. 108 bridge.

“The feasibility study recommended the Industrial Drive corridor as the preferred,” he said.

Overall, there are numerous reasons the second bridge is being sought.

“It’s basically to get a more direct link between the industrial areas, improve the access for future developments, reduce the crashes ... that are occurring on the surrounding roadways and improve the life of the downtown bridge,” Etchie said. Also, the second bridge would increase access to Rte. 24 and reduce traffic, especially trucks, traveling through the city.

Public comments will continue to be accepted through Dec. 30 and can be mailed to Etchie at 1800 Indian Wood Circle, Maumee, OH 43537 or e-mailed to petchie@manniksmithgroup.com .

The tentative project schedule includes environmental studies by May 2014, with the final design being completed by June 2015, right-of-way acquisition in October 2015, final plans submitted to the Ohio Department of Transportation by October 2015 and construction in 2016. However, the timeline is subject to change, especially in regards to funding.

“There is no funding yet secured for building the bridge,” Etchie said. “It depends on what type of funding is found for the project as it moves forward.”

Pat McColley of the Henry County Engineer’s Office said they have been talking to the state infrastructure bank regarding a loan and have also applied for TRAC funds several times.

“A lot of times, they don’t want to fund a project until they’re at a more shovel-ready phase,” he said. “I think once we approach a shovel-ready phase, the funding becomes a lot easier.”

E-mail comments to jenl@northwestsignal.net .