Quakes prompt earlier bridge checks in Youngstown

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By David Skolnick



After 12 earthquakes in 10 months, city officials are moving up the once-every-two-year inspection of Youngstown’s 55 bridges.

The city’s board of control voted Thursday to hire MS Consultants for $49,635 to inspect the bridges now rather than later in the year, when the work is typically done.

“We were going to do it in the summer, but I’d rather be safe than sorry,” said Mayor Charles Sammarone, board of control chairman.

There haven’t been reports of damage to any of the city’s bridges because of the earthquakes, said Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public works department.

The epicenter of all 12 quakes, including a magnitude 4.0 on Dec. 31, is near a brine-injection well on Ohio Works Drive on the city’s West Side.

The Division Street Bridge is nearby.

The city has 39 vehicular bridges, including the Division Street Bridge near the injection-well site, as well as 13 railroad bridges and three pedestrian bridges, Shasho said.

MS, a Youngstown company that has inspected the city’s bridge for years, will begin the work shortly, Shasho said. It will take the company about four months to complete the inspections, he said.

The last inspection of the city’s bridges was in late 2010, Shasho said.

The city also will ask the Ohio Department of Transportation to inspect state bridges, he said.

D&L Energy Group, owner of a brine-injection well on Ohio Works Drive, agreed to a shutdown Dec. 30 after discussions with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The epicenter of 10 earthquakes is near the well.

A day later, an 11th earthquake, the largest with a magnitude 4.0, occurred with the epicenter near that well.

That led the state to issue the indefinite moratorium on that well and others within a five-mile radius, while studies of the site are done, including determining whether the injection wells and the earthquakes are connected.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources expanded the ban last week to within seven miles of the well.

Also, a magnitude 2.1 earthquake occurred near the well site last Friday.

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