Scioto County Engineer Darren LeBrun has secured new grant funding to replace a total of nine bridges in the county.
Out of exactly 500 bridges across Scioto County, in which an Ohio bridge is defined as a structure that crosses the span of at least ten feet, the engineer was able to pinpoint nine in dire need of replacement.
He applied for funding that came from the County Engineer’s Association’s Bridge Formula Program that is part of the bi-partisan infrastructure bill funneled through the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), and was able to secure $10,092,607. According to LeBrun, impressively, the required County match was only $50,000.
“ODOT has been more than fair with the funding and Governor DeWine brought this money to the County Engineer’s Association,” LeBrun explained. “It is a competitive program that depends on the condition of the bridge and a system that they try to get as much money to the counties as possible.”
With a budget of only six million dollars a year for all countywide projects, LeBrun said it can be challenging to find the kind of funding necessary to replace these large structures, but the grant funding has created an opportunity to improve the massive infrastructure in an achievable way.
“We have known for some time that these bridges needed replaced or receive major rehab, so we are very fortunate and appreciative that we were able to find the funding to get these structures taken care of,” LeBrun said. “Most of the bridges in this program are 70 to 75 years old.”
LeBrun said that the feeling he gets from funding these updates is relief.
“It is sort of like a train coming down the tracks and these are large-span bridges on critical roadways. So, it is a relief to get them taken care of,” LeBrun explained.
LeBrun said that there is a list of 20 additional bridges that they are currently looking at to give attention to in the future. He was able to address the worst and costliest with this recent funding, however.
“This funding has allowed us to address the more expensive bridges. So, like, the last one we just got funded was the truss bridge on Rocky Fork that is located after State Route 348,” explained LeBrun. “It is a 150-span bridge. The funding we received for that one was right at 1.9 million. It can be a challenge to find 1.9 million in a 6 million budget. This funding makes it possible.”
Bridges to be replaced this year by the County Engineer’s office include the following:
White Gravel Road at mile marker 6.46, in which they will be replacing a truss bridge with a prestressed concrete box beam bridge; Duck Run Road at mile marker 0.19, in which they will be replacing a truss bridge with a prestressed concrete box beam bridge; Rarden Hazelbaker Road at mile marker 7.61, in which they will be replacing a truss bridge with a galvanized steel beam bridge; Henley Deemer Road at mile marker 0.11, in which they will be replacing a truss bridge with a prestressed concrete box beam bridge; Pond Run Road at mile marker 0.46, in which they will be replacing the existing bridge deck and beams with galvanized steel beams and a new deck; Pond Run Road at mile marker 1.63, in which they will be replacing the existing bridge deck and beams with galvanized steel beams and a new deck.
Bridges that are grant funded to be replaced at a future date include the following:
Pond Run Road at mile marker 1.90, in which they will be replacing the existing steel beam bridge with the new bridge type to be determined in 2024 or 2025; Stoney Run Road at mile marker 0.63, in which they will be replacing the existing steel beam bridge with the new bridge type to be determined in construction in 2024 or 2025; Rocky Fork Road at mile marker 8.36, in which they will be replacing a truss bridge with the new bridge type to be determined in 2025 or 2026.
LeBrun explained that losing some of the bridges can be a little sad, but necessary.
“It is a little bit sad, too. A lot of these bridges have been part of the area for years,” LeBrun said. “A truss bridge is pretty to look at, but it is what they call a fracture critical bridge that, if one member gets struck, the whole bridge can go down. So, it is a safety issue and condition issue.”
LeBrun has been County Engineer since 2017 and, in his time in office, LeBrun has secured $29.9 million dollars in grant funding for a total of $44 million in projects.
When he was elected, he began exploring the option of a countywide road improvement program he eventually implemented the following year.
The program has since witnessed 406 roads being paved for a total of 7,000 dump truck of asphalt across the county.
Last year alone, the Countywide Roadway Improvement Project put down 1,600 dump truck loads of asphalt.
In its lifetime, the project has witnessed incredible numbers, thanks to the Ohio Public Works Grant that LeBrun pursues every year.
Since its inception, a total of $11,290,263 has been spent on new roadways. $6,774,158 of that money was ear noted from won grant dollars and $4,516,105 was provided from local municipal matching dollars.
“It is an honor to be Scioto County Engineer. I grew up here and graduated from Minford,” stated LeBrun. “Being a part of improving infrastructure and making things better for the next generation is an honor.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved