Construction of the bridges is set to start in late 2004 or early 2005.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- An adjusted design plan to replace the twin bridges that carry Interstate 80 over the Meander Reservoir will result in significant cost savings, an Ohio Department of Transportation official said.
Building a replacement structure 200 feet south of the twin bridges instead of the original plan to put the new bridge on the north side reduces the project's preliminary cost from $36.7 million to $23.1 million, said Jennifer Richmond, spokeswoman for ODOT's District 4 office in Ravenna, which oversees state road and bridge projects in Mahoning County.
"We reviewed the preliminary designs and looked at other options to reduce cost," Richmond said.
The savings come from building a shorter bridge, which allows ODOT to reduce by half the amount of fill material needed to be put into the reservoir, she said. The revised plan requires the acquisition of less right of way, she said.
The new location will increase the amount of wetlands impacted by the project from 8.35 acres to 11.74 acres. There are known federally protected species in the area, but the project will not impact them, according to ODOT officials.
Six lanes: The new bridge will have six lanes, compared to four on the current structure, with a spill containment system and a causeway to reduce possible contamination of the reservoir in case of an accident. The Meander Reservoir is the water source for about 300,000 Mahoning and Trumbull county residents.
The state is funding the project.
The project is entering the final design phase, which will take 18 months to complete, Richmond said.
Right-of-way acquisition is set to begin in early 2003 and the bridge construction is supposed to start in late 2004 or early 2005, she said. Until the design phase is completed, it is not known how long the replacement project will take, she said.
The twin bridges will remain open during the construction of the new span, Richmond said.