Third Street bridge to be latest to undergo repairs

DAYTON — Emergency repairs to the Third Street Bridge spanning the Great Miami River downtown will begin in late August. The $775,000 job will basically be a patch until funding for complete rehab becomes available around 2016.

“Is the bridge in danger of collapse today, no,” Montgomery County Engineer Joe Litvin said. “Because of state and federal regulations these bridges cannot be done in the blink of an eye.”

Litvan said it takes — on average — about six years for a bridge project to move from concept, to design, through construction to completion. The Montgomery County Engineer’s Office is responsible for maintaining 510 bridges. Litvin said, ideally, at least 10 bridges should be rehabbed or replaced each year. The county often works jointly with other jurisdictions to apply for bridge work funding to government entities like the Ohio Public Works Commission. The commission was created to assist in financing local public infrastructure improvements.

“We have a five-year plan for funding, but anything beyond two years is a wish list,” Litvin said. “We try to get funding where ever we can.”

The Third Street Bridge was built in 1949, then got a new concrete overlay in 1991.

“Both those dates indicate the bridge has some age on it,” said Joseph Servaites, senior engineer for the Office of the Montgomery County Engineer. “The average life of a bridge is 50 years. This one has gone beyond that.”

Some 16,300 vehicles cross the Third Street Bridge daily, according to the county engineer’s office. Now expansion joints, that look like steel fingers abutting the bridge and the roadway, are loose on both ends and the underbelly of the bridge deck is wet.

“That’s an immediate safety problem,” said Servaites, adding the structural steel of the bridge has held up well.

One lane of traffic in both directions will be maintained during bridge repairs, which are expected to be done by May 2011.

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The Riverside Drive Bridge over the Great Miami River is currently under repair for a similar joint problem. That work got started in May and should be completed in September.

“It all depends on the weather,” Litvin said.

The Ohio Department of Transportation, since 2004, has overseen 10 bridge projects in Dayton and Montgomery County totalling more than $40 million. ODOT projects included the $15.3 million Interstate 75 bridge at Stanley Avenue, which is expected to be complete by the end of July.

Dayton can boast of 17 new bridges within city limits since 2004, including at least six of its own projects and others overseen by ODOT and Montgomery County.

The $3.5 million Bridge Street bridge rebuild, currently under construction, is expected to be complete by April 2011, according to Steve Finke, the city’s assistant director of public works.

Future city bridge projects include replacing the span on Rosedale Driver over Wolf Creek starting in January 2011 at a cost of $3.5 million. Construction of the Broadway Bridge over Wolf Creek, estimated at $4 million and only partly funded, should get underway in 2012.

Finke said funding for city bridge projects comes from a variety of sources including: ODOT Municipal Bridge Funds, State Issue 1 funds, Community Development Block Grants, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, and city funds.

“We owe a lot to the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Public Works Commission,” Finke said. “We started with the Findlay Street rebuild (completed in 2006) and we’ve made an application for additional funding every year.”

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