Commuters using the Harshman Road Bridge over Mad River should prepare for slowdowns as a bridge replacement project gets underway.
Work crews on Nov. 16 will begin a nearly two-year project to rebuild the bridge, originally built in 1958.
When work finishes by September 2017, drivers will have a new $7.3 million bridge that will minimize traffic hang-ups caused by a left turn to Eastwood MetroPark.
The new bridge will carry two lanes of traffic in each direction plus a center left-turn lane to accommodate left turns into the northern entrance of Eastwood.
Montgomery County Engineer Paul W. Gruner said the bridge, which is between Springfield Street and state Route 4 in Dayton, will be built by Eagle Bridge Company of Sidney.
Harshman Road will remain open to traffic during the project because the bridge will be built one half at a time, Gruner added.
Gruner said the first step is for the contractor to spend two to three weeks installing temporary pavement and to structurally prepare the bridge to maintain traffic. During that time, one lane will be open for traffic in each direction.
After the initial two to three week period, two lanes will be open for southbound traffic and one lane open for northbound traffic.
The new bridge will also carry a dedicated bicycle lane on the west side that will connect the two entrances of Eastwood Metro Park.
Bruce Clark of Dayton rides under the bridge on the Mad River Trail bikeway. He’s glad the county came up with funding for the project.
“It looks like it’s going to fall down any second there,” Clark told News Center 7.
The bikeway will be closed during construction.
The bikeway will have a posted detour — Eastwood Metro Park Drive, crossing Harshman Road at the traffic signal and along the Well Field drive back to the bikeway.
Gruner said drivers should expect delays, particularly in the northbound direction where only one lane will be open. Drivers may want to find alternate routes once work begins, he said.
The bridge is among many severely deteriorated bridges around Ohio deemed past due for replacement. It’s been kept in service with emergency repair work that includes rocks placed around bridge piers to prevent erosion from the river. The southbound deck was repaired and resurfaced to keep it open to traffic.
Concrete from the deteriorating bridge has fallen on the bikeway, leading the engineer’s office to place sheeting under the bridge to protect passersby.
Gruner said federal highway funds will pay for $5.6 million, the Ohio Public Works Commission will pay for $1 million and the remaining $622,000 is coming from Montgomery County engineer’s funds.