By Ashley Luthern
Motorists and business owners frustrated with a bridge closure on state Route 165 have to stick it out a little longer.
The Ohio Department of Transportation expects the Route 165 bridge that crosses over state Route 11 in Beaver Township to remain closed through late November.
ODOT is replacing that bridge as part of a $2.3 million project that also includes replacing the Route 165 bridge over Mill Creek next year, said Brent Kovacs, ODOT District 4 spokesman.
Arin (Haus) Mihalko, an assistant manager at Haus Apple Orchards and Cider Mill on Calla Road, said customers have commented on the construction on Route 165, also known as South Range Road.
“People have really been annoyed. Several businesses and farmers have complained about all the roads being closed, and when Western Reserve Road was closed, it was very annoying. It did hurt our business because people don’t want to take a long drive or they don’t know any other way,” she said.
Mahoning County has a project under way to widen Western Reserve Road. Now that a portion of Western Reserve Road has reopened, Mihalko is recommending customers coming from the Boardman area take Western Reserve to state Route 46 to Calla Road.
She said it helps that Haus cider is carried in local grocery stores.
“This is our busiest season, but actually even though it probably does hurt, we’ve still been pretty busy at the farm,” Mihalko said.
ODOT decided to split the project into two phases before it went out to bid, after realizing residents would be landlocked if both bridges were closed at the same time, Kovacs said.
During an environmental assessment of the entire project, when experts examine wildlife that could be affected by construction, an endangered snake was discovered near Mill Creek, he said.
“A snake was found out there, but it never delayed the project,” Kovacs said.
ODOT will try to relocate that snake and others next year before beginning the project’s second phase of replacing the bridge over Mill Creek.
“In the spring, we’ll put out a big metal plate [near Mill Creek] so it gathers heat from the sun, and we have an environmental contractor who specializes in snakes and lifts it up to see what snakes are there and will relocate them,” he said.
Kovacs said the project is on schedule and should be completely wrapped up by August 2013.