Construction to replace the bridge is expected to start in April and take more than two years.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- With replacement of the state Route 46 viaduct expected to start in two months, school district officials are planning for bus shuffling.
Earlier this week, city council passed legislation requesting the state director of transportation proceed with replacement of the state Route 46 viaduct. It was the final resolution required from the city for the project to move forward.
When work will begin: Ohio Department of Transportation is expected to award a contract for the project next month with construction slated to begin in April. The project is expected to take about 21/2 years. The school district's new middle school in Brynhyfryd Park, along Route 46, is expected to open in the fall of 2003.
"We're working on different scenarios," said Superintendent Patrick Guliano. "One scenario is with the viaduct open when we'll be using Belmont Avenue anyway and we're doing a scenario with the viaduct closed."
The 69-year-old bridge, which connects the city's downtown and south side, is one of two in the city over the Mahoning River. The Belmont bridge is the other.
A four-lane structure over the Mahoning River will replace the viaduct. ODOT plans to reduce it to two lanes and keep it open during construction.
Michael S. Shargo, school district transportation supervisor, said that even if the bridge remains open, the buses will be rerouted over the Belmont bridge. A weight limit would likely exclude school buses.
Additional complication: Work to widen and improve Robbins Avenue expected later this year is expected to further complicate the problem.
Both Shargo and Guliano said the transportation issues could affect the starting time for the new middle school. Ground was broken on the new school, which will replace Edison Junior High School, in June. Sixth-graders who now attend one of the five elementary schools also will attend the new school.
"We're going to be transporting most of the students, if not all of them, to the new school when it opens," Shargo said.
The district has 17 vehicles and runs 11 buses on a regular school day.