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* News Release *
Friday, December 21, 2001
For Immediate Release


Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens announces that the new Taylor School Road Bridge near Seven Mile will open to traffic tomorrow at 12:00 noon. A brief ceremony will be held at 11:00 a.m. to recognize those who worked to ensure the bridge's timely completion.

"It was a dramatic effort by a number of people to make this opening a reality. Many of them worked six and seven days a week so that we wouldn't have to keep the road closed through the winter," Wilkens said. "We know this has been an inconvenience to the motorists in this area and we wanted to get the road open as quickly as possible. Favorable weather this fall has also been very helpful."

With a new 3-span concrete box beam bridge in place, the road opens tomorrow after being closed for ten months. The old structure, a two-span truss built in 1928, was closed last February because advanced deterioration of the truss had caused the bridge's middle section to sag, making it unsafe for motorists. The aging bridge had been posted with a 20-ton load limit and was originally scheduled for replacement in late 2002.

"We were already in the design process and on schedule for new bridge construction in 2002," Wilkens noted in an earlier statement. "But the plans were not yet complete when we were forced into an emergency closure. Our engineers immediately accelerated design and engineering for the new bridge, and funding that was allocated for next year had to be worked into this year's budget."

Wilkens added: "We immediately formed a partnership with the Ohio Department of Transportation, which expedited the environmental process, and Burgess & Niple Engineers, who provided a quick turnaround on design. SK Construction is also to be commended for getting the new bridge built in such a short time frame." SK was awarded the construction contract in October, submitting a low bid of $993,665. Federal LPA funds were utilized to pay for the new bridge over Seven Mile Creek on the Wayne / St. Clair Township line.

Project timelines were compressed to facilitate the December opening, according to Wilkens. Environmental studies, which can take up to a year for a typical bridge this size, were cut to four months. Moreover, the construction timeline was reduced from a typical five-month period to just two months. "Overall we were able to cut nearly a year and half off the total timeline in an effort to reopen this bridge," Wilkens said.

Funding Critical

This emergency project underscores the critical funding needs for what are perceived to be rural roads. "Taylor School Road and this bridge seem to be unknown until they are out of service. They may not carry large traffic volumes, but they carry critical trips," Wilkens emphasized. "Taylor School is a major east-west connector linking many communities in north-central Butler County. When a road like this goes down, engineering isn't always our major obstacle. Finding the money for repairs is the primary challenge."

2001: A Year of Emergencies and Strained Budgets

The Taylor School Road Bridge was not the only unexpected project to strain the Engineer's budget this year. An embankment slip in February forced the closure of Mauds Hughes Road in Liberty Township and July's flash floods produced extensive damage to numerous roads, culverts, and bridges resulting in thirteen emergency closures. Nearly all flood-damaged roads have since been reopened. Canal Road in Fairfield Township remains closed while BCEO officials pursue various funding sources for the estimated $300,000 repair.

Photos added 12/2701:

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For more information contact:

Chris Petrocy, Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S., Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 • Fax 513.867.5849

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