Bridge closing problems considered

By Frank Lewis - [email protected]

At the same time that the paving by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) of U.S. 52 has brought about some travel woes in the city of Portsmouth, the closing of the U.S. Grant Bridge for repairs and maintenance has brought with it it’s own set of issues for motorists to deal with.

As Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen said in a previous comment on the 52 paving project, a pre-construction meeting is always held by ODOT to discuss issues before the process begins.

“I did go to the pre-construction meeting for the Grant Bridge,” Allen said. “That was where we expressed some of our concerns.”

Allen said he had been under the impression that authorities were going to maintain traffic on the bridge while the work was being done.

“With the Grant Bridge, that was the same thing, we had discussions with the city manager and I believe our planning department asked and discussed the closure versus trying to do the project with restrictions on the bridge as opposed to doing the full closure,” Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for ODOT District 9, said. “It was discussed with the city at that time prior to the final design being sent to Columbus to get ready for bid letting, but we would be closing the bridge because it makes more sense to reroute traffic simply because we can get the project done.”

Fuller said, with a concrete overlay, which is what the bridge project consists of, good weather is a necessity.

“You’ve got to get it done pretty quickly if you sell it and you’re not able to go to construction until the end of August,” Fuller said. “You’ve got a project that’s going to take some time to get done rather than doing just part of it this year and then come back and do the rest of it next year for the sake of maintaining traffic when you have an alternative which is the Carl Perkins (Bridge).”

The closing of the Grant Bridge brings with it, its own set of problems.

“They didn’t know they were going to close it,” Allen said. “One of the concerns we had, obviously was River Days and the second one was, what are they doing to post detours for Shawnee State University activities. People coming up from Kentucky now have to go across the Carl Perkins (Bridge) and find their way back over to the university.”

He said it was at the pre-construction meeting that those issues were discussed.

“Typically, do people come to our meetings? No, we don’t see people coming to our meetings unfortunately to talk about these projects,” Fuller said. “We have a public meeting but people don’t attend.”

Fuller said, with construction, most people should be aware that whether they are traveling in Portsmouth, Columbus, Cleveland, Detroit or Chicago, including four-lane routes through cities, they need to allow for traffic to be slowed down.

By Frank Lewis

[email protected]

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.