New $9.5M bridge to be built near $25M Warren County redevelopment

Plans for a new $9.5 million bridge are the latest good news for plans to redevelop the former Peters Cartridge Factory in Warren County.

The bridge is planned over the Little Miami River, replacing an existing span near the multi-use trail along the river near Kings Mills, Mason and the old factory.

The area and old ammunition factory are being redeveloped with more than $40 million in public and private investment.

If all goes according to County Engineer Neil Tunison’s plan, the new Kings Avenue bridge would be built in 2022 or 2023.

“You’ve got private dollars coming in,” Commissioner Dave Young said after Tunison laid out his plan on Tuesday. “That just makes it more marketable.”

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Tunison left Tuesday’s County Board of Commissioners meeting with support for his plan to pay for the bridge with $5 million in federal funds through the state county engineers association and other public monies yet to be identified.

“We’ve only been talking about this for 10 years,” Young added, while noting some in the Kings Mills community will probably not like the added traffic likely to come with the new bridge. “It opens up the fastest growing part of our county.”

Tunison said the developer, Bloomfield/Schon and Associates, is not expected to help pay for the new bridge.

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There was no response from Principal Kenneth Schon or the firm to questions about the importance of the new bridge project.

The proposed redevelopment, on 14 acres fronting on the bike path, near the Kings Island Amusement Park in Hamilton Twp., was been valued at $25.4 million in a report on $2.4 million in historic state tax credits the project qualified for.

If built, the developer would avoid sales tax for building materials through lease deals with the Warren County Port Authority. The port takes ownership and leases it back for $1 a year to the actual owner or owners.

The county also granted the project a $491,000 reduction in tap-in fees, but Schon said he was still facing a funding gap.

RELATED: Developer appeals for tap-in fee breaks

The six-building Peters Cartridge Factory was built between 1916 and 1919, according to the Ohio Department of Development.

RELATED: County approves tap-in fee reduction, rate increases for water softening

But the company made ammunition there from the Civil War through World War II, according to other reports. Dozens of workers were killed at the factory while making ammunition, according to the website Forgotten Ohio.

The plant stopped operating after World War II, and the buildings were used for industrial and storage use, among other things.

The site was cleansed of environmental hazards left over from the plant, previously owned by Dupont, a global corporation based in Wilmington, Del., prompting temporary closure of the section of bike trail between the property and the river.

RELATED: Trail section closed for environmental cleanup

The new bridge would ease the sharpness of a curve on the west side of the river leading to Grandin Road and Mason. It would cross the river north of the existing bridge and go over the trail, leaving an existing trailside parking lot and moving the bridge away from the redevelopment, where 128 apartments, office and retail space are be constructed.

The plan takes the most expensive of three options presented to residents earlier this year as alternatives and the one favored by the focus group.

Load limits have already been reduced on the current bridge due to deterioration detected in inspections.

"Nooooo… one of the few good motorcycle turns left," area resident Tony Statt said in a comment on the Warren County News Facebook Page.

Statt was one of a handful of people who commented on Facebook after this newspaper posted an earlier report on the bridge project plan.

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The existing bridge was replaced in the 1980s.

“We thought it would last for 70 years,” Tunison said Tuesday.

But concrete beams are deteriorating and the load-carrying capacity has been reduced.

“There’s not a whole lot of life left in it,” Tunison said, adding the deteriorated concrete was not repairable.

As many as 10,000 cars a day crossed it, although counts had dropped recently, according to the county engineer’s office.

Signs would urge truckers to take alternative routes, but the new design would enable tractor-trailers to make a turn on the west side without damaging the bridge or their vehicles, Tunison said.

The new bridge would cross the river north of the current one, further away from the factory redevelopment.

“We’re going to go over the bike trail,” Tunison said.

By staying out of the river bed, the county expects to avoid a need for review by the U.S. Corps of Engineers and environmental mitigation measures, he added.

The $9.5 million replacement was selected from three options offered to a community group earlier this year, over a $3.5 million rehabilitation and closing of the bridge, Tunison said.

The county would have been expected to contribute $600,000 to the rehabilitation, as opposed to $4.5 million for the new bridge. But a new bridge will last “much longer,” Tunison said.

RELATED: $44 million in road, bridge projects in Warren County in 2017

“We’ll come up with the money,” he said.

Tunison indicated his office would get started on designing the bridge. He still needs the commissioners to approve a resolution of necessity supporting the project.

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