State, county will expedite bridge repairs
Plans for bridge repairs should be completed this week.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- State and Columbiana County engineers say they're going to repair damaged bridges fast and figure out who pays for it later.
A bridge on state Route 45 south of Salem and four county bridges and culverts were heavily damaged by 7.2 inches of rain that fell Friday and Saturday.
Troy Graft, the chief engineer for county Engineer Bert Dawson, said Monday that for motorists trying to get from Lisbon to Salem or vice versa, "It's not going to be easy."
Route 45 is closed south of McCracken Corners in Salem Township.
James Graham, an engineer for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said a contractor is already doing site preparation to speed rebuilding of Route 45, he said.
The closed county bridges include:
*Winona Road between Depot Road and King Road in Butler Township.
*Miller Road between Lisbon and Grafton roads on the border of Center and Salem townships.
*Teegarden Road between Yates and McCracken roads in Salem Township.
A county culvert on Depot Road, north of Burtview in Butler Township, also was washed out.
Graham said hydraulic studies will show whether a box-shaped design or "very, very large" pipe is needed to handle the water. Dawson is looking at the same, but smaller, options.
Both men said they should know later in the week what will work best and immediately search for materials.
The county may become eligible for low-cost disaster relief loans, Graham said. The Federal Highway Administration normally has funds available for state and county infrastructures.
But, he said, "We don't want to wait for any word from the federal government if they have funds available."
Graham said the state would pay for its repairs and see if the federal government will reimburse the cost.
"If not, that's life," Graham said.
Dawson said his budget is tight but not that tight that the repairs can't be made.
Neither the state nor county could estimate when the repairs would be made or the cost. The engineers hope to have cost figures by the end of the week and the material they need in a few weeks.
Graham said the area on Route 45 that washed out had been built in the 1930s. Only now are figures becoming available for 100 years of precipitation to guide engineers on the volume of water that bridges and culverts have to handle.
The assessment of storm damage was still under way Monday as the county and state both made minor repairs to washouts and potholes.
The county's Emergency Management Agency said damage to private property was estimated at $3.2 million. That didn't include 30 new, untallied estimates of private damage received by EMA on Monday.
Graft said the bridge on Miller Road is still there, but there aren't any abutments supporting it.
County Sheriff David Smith said people should stay away from flooded areas. People with four-wheel-drive vehicles and younger motorists were driving through flooded areas where the roads have been undermined, he said.
Commissioner Gary Williams said the damage was confined to the central portion of the county. "It's quite a sight," Williams said.
Meanwhile, the post office in Elkton on state Route 154 has been closed because of flood damage. Residents who have a post office box at the Elkton office will be able to pick up their mail at the post office at 218 W. Lincoln Way in Lisbon. Rural delivery will continue from the Lisbon office.