COPLEY — Summit County closed the well-traveled South Cleveland-Massillon Road bridge over Wolf Creek indefinitely Friday afternoon after "rapid deterioration" was found on outside beams.

It's unclear when the 48-foot-long bridge will reopen.

"The safety of the traveling public supersedes the convenience of the traveling public," Summit County Engineer's Office spokeswoman Heidi Swindell said Friday.

County maintenance workers noticed the deterioration a few days ago and two bridge companies were called in to examine the structure. Cleveland-based E.L. Robinson recommended Thursday night that the bridge be closed immediately.

The concern is the weight of the vehicles traveling on the span, Swindell said. More than 4,500 vehicles a day drive the road, which serves as a major route from Fairlawn, Bath and Copley to Norton and Barberton.

Wolf Creek serves as the Barberton water reservoir.

The county will remove the asphalt and examine the condition of the interior beams. If those interior beams are sound, the bridge may be able to be reopened but with only one lane in the center of the span and temporary lights controlling traffic, Swindell said.

"We will provide a closure update as soon as we examine the beams," she said.

The work is expected to begin Monday.

The bridge was built in 1922 and was last rehabbed in 1977. It needs to be replaced and now has moved into the county's high priority list of bridge projects, Swindell said.

The county is urging motorists to use state Route 261 and Summit Road as a detour.

Heather McMullin, who works as a server at the nearby Wolf Creek Winery, drives over the bridge every day and admitted she gets nervous.

"You can see some of the deterioration on the side," she said. "Am I going to be going over one day and are things going to collapse? Am I going to go right into the water?"

McMullin said she drives in the center if there's no oncoming traffic.

She also questioned what a long-term closure would mean for the winery, especially with the busy summer season approaching. Some people won't want to take a detour, she said.

 

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.