ELO’s bridge burden eased

EAST LIVERPOOL — The city was recently notified by the Ohio Department of Transportation that the Elizabeth Street Bridge replacement project has been selected for funding in the Municipal Bridge Program, meaning its share of the $2.4 million project has been lessened.

According to officials, in the past ODOT has provided 80 percent of the eligible costs in federal funds through the Municipal Bridge Program but this year will be utilizing Toll Revenue Credit to provide 95 percent of those costs, up to $2,112,956 in fiscal year 2019.

If the schedule and funds allow, the project could be moved to fiscal year 2018, according to ODOT.

Built in 1919, the bridge, which spans the Norfolk-Southern Railroad tracks, provides one of two accesses to the Klondike neighborhood along the Ohio River.

It was closed by the city in January after an inspection showed severe deterioration, leaving only Putnam Street as an access to the Klondike area, except through the S.H. Bell Company’s property.

The project entails demolishing the 198-foot-long bridge and replacing it with a new span, including supports that must go 30 feet into the ground.

The city will realize its share of the project from the Ohio Rail Development Commission in exchange for closing two railway crossings.

In recent days, residents of Klondike have expressed their concern about trains stopped along the tracks, blocking the neighborhood for lengthy periods, which city officials had said previously would not happen after the bridge was closed.

Service-Safety Director Brian Allen said, “Nobody called us about the train being stopped. If they had, we would have addressed it (with Norfolk-Southern).”

He said the railroad company has been trying to accommodate the neighborhood by coupling and uncoupling rail cars away from the crossing on Putnam Street.

“They need to be patient,” he said of Klondike residents, saying, “They told us it would be 2019 before the bridge was done.”

The work schedule calls for construction to begin in November 2018, with completion expected in July 2019, and officials have emphasized the project has been expedited, saying projects of this magnitude normally require four years to complete, not two.

Mayor Ryan Stovall added, “Growing up in Klondike, I understand the necessity of the bridge for not only convenience but safety. I want to thank the residents of Klondike for their patience during this project, and I assure them the bridge will be completed in the fastest and safest manner possible.”

In addition, Stovall said, “I want to thank all those involved in helping to secure this funding and I look forward to working together now and in the future.”