LISBON - Columbiana County Engineer Bert Dawson believes a recent joint meeting with state and federal officials will lead to completion of a stalled bridge replacement/road realignment project within Beaver Creek State Park.
The meeting was held on Sept. 5 to discuss a project begun in 2002 to replace the one-lane bridge on Sprucevale Road, which is a county road that runs through the Gretchen's Lock section of the state park in St. Clair Township. The project also involves realignment of the road to eliminate an extreme down-hill curve leading to the bridge when coming from the south.
The project cost is an estimated $2.99 million, with the Federal Highway Administration awarding the county $2.85 million in 2002. The project has been repeatedly delayed over the past 10 years, mostly due to environmental issues raised by federal officials because the bridge spans the Little Beaver Creek, which is a national and state designated Wild and Scenic River.
The most recent delay occurred last year after the National Park Service rejected the engineer's office design because it called for a single concrete pier. Dawson said the Park Service told them they are opposed to there being any piers in the water, which would require the project being redesigned.
The Sept. 5 meeting occurred at the bridge and included Dawson and his staff, as well as representatives from the Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and Ohio Department of Transportation. The meeting was arranged by the office of U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta.
Dawson hopes the meeting will prove invaluable in getting the project moving forward. He said by bringing all of the parties together any issues raised during the meeting could be immediately addressed.
"As soon as someone raised an objection you could talk about it immediately," he said.
The result, Dawson believes, was a tentative agreement on a bridge design that is both functional, aesthetically pleasing and satisfies the various state and federal agencies.
"We agreed to look into the feasibility of installing longer pre-cast (concrete) beams. We'll hopefully get their OK and we'll do a preliminary study," he said.
The redesigned bridge would include piers but they would be on shore and not in the creek. Dawson said they have received additional funding to cover the redesign cost.