Summit County Council on Monday took a step toward replacing the deteriorating South Cleveland-Massillon Road bridge over Wolf Creek in Copley Township, passing an emergency resolution to allow for the bridge's replacement as it remains closed for the foreseeable future.

The heavily traveled 48-foot-long span was closed unexpectedly April 19 after county maintenance workers performing repair work found severely deteriorated exterior beams.

A senior bridge engineer from Cleveland-based civil engineering firm E.L. Robinson Inc. recommended the bridge be immediately narrowed and the asphalt removed to evaluate the condition of the interior beams. The county engineer's office, which is responsible for the bridge, scraped off a layer of asphalt in the following days to inspect the interior beams and discovered cracks.

County officials had hoped to reopen the bridge with one lane of traffic in the center and traffic lights controlling vehicles in each direction if the interior beams had been in good shape, but given the condition of the beams, that wasn't possible.

"We did not feel comfortable having traffic go over that," county engineer office spokeswoman Heidi Swindell told council members on Monday.

Swindell said the emergency declaration will allow the bridge to reopen faster by avoiding some of the process — including competitive bidding requirements — that can bog down construction timelines. The county is in the process of getting quotes for demolition and culvert manufacturing, she said.

Swindell said the county's goal is to have the road reopened by the winter. The project's tentative cost is estimated at $200,000, with demolition of the bridge costing an additional $40,000 to $50,000, she said.

When time permits, the county engineer's office will have to get three quotes for any work to be performed before submitting an agreement to the county Board of Control for approval, according to the resolution council unanimously passed Monday. The resolution also states the county will need to use a contractor and possibly an engineering design firm for the bridge's replacement.

"This will just allow us to hire those companies and get it opened as soon as we possibly can," Swindell said.

Emergency grant funding from the state of Ohio or Federal Highway Administration may be available for the bridge's replacement; the county engineer's office plans to apply for funding, according to the resolution. Swindell said the county is also submitting an application to the Ohio Public Works Commission for emergency funding to help with some of the costs.

The bridge was built in 1922 and was last rehabbed in 1977. More than 4,500 vehicles a day drive the road, which serves as a major route between Fairlawn, Bath and Copley and Norton and Barberton.

Wolf Creek, also known there as the Barberton Reservoir, serves as the drinking water reservoir for Barberton. County officials anticipate having to take extra precautions during construction because of the reservoir.

The county is urging motorists to use state Route 261 and Summit Road as a detour. Some drivers, though, are taking local roads. The township has received complaints about speeding on Coon Road, which travels between Minor and Stimson roads, and police are ticketing there. The speed limit is 25 mph.

 

 

Beacon Journal reporter Rick Armon contributed to this report. Contact reporter Emily Mills at 330-996-3334, emills@thebeaconjournal.com and @EmilyMills818.