By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- One of two paths over the Mahoning River in the city is open.
The Belmont Avenue bridge, closed for replacement since October 2000, reopened Thursday morning. The other bridge, the state Route 46 viaduct, is set for replacement next year.
"It was important that this bridge be in place," said John Latell, Trumbull County engineer, at an opening event attended by state, county and city officials.
Alternative route: The Belmont span will serve as an alternative path during the viaduct replacement project.
The old Belmont bridge was built in 1952. It was made of steel, with the pier and substructure abutments built of sandstone.
Deterioration prompted the replacement.
It required repairs in 1971 and 1994.
Planning for replacement started in the early 1990s, when the county hired Lynn, Kittinger & amp; Noble Inc., a Warren engineering design firm, to start environmental and design work.
BOG Construction of Berlin Center was the contractor.
Longer than original: The new steel beam bridge with concrete abutments is 5 feet longer than the original structure.
The type of steel used in the beams don't require painting.
"It develops a natural rust that develops a protective coating," Latell said.
The coating cuts down maintenance costs and environmental concerns that can arise from bridge painting. A sidewalk runs along the east side of the bridge.
Eighty percent of the $910,000 cost was covered by federal funds secured by U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant of Poland, D-17th.
Engineering ran $130,000, with $8,000 paid for right-of-way acquisitions, both of which were covered by local funds.
The viaduct: Replacement of the viaduct, built in 1932, is expected to start next summer and take about 21/2 years.
The three- to four-lane bridge on state Route 46 extends from the south side to downtown and will remain open during replacement.
It's scheduled to be reduced to two lanes during construction.
The city is working to remove contaminated soil on one side of the bridge, a step required for the project to proceed.
The contamination, confined to a small area, was caused by motor oil stored in barrels at the former sewer plant.