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Officials forced to close yet another local bridge

From Staff Reports

The Greene County Board of Supervisors have been working toward a nearly $5-million bond package to address an aging road and bridge system. Unfortunately, that process takes time, and for some of the county’s bridges time is running out.

Supervisors were notified earlier this week of problems with the Mason Creek Bridge on Indian Hill Road. An inspection of that bridge identified three wooden pilings that were deteriorated to a point where an independent state inspector ordered the bridge closed.

District Two Supervisor Elton Clark said Tuesday morning that the bridge would be closed indefinitely on Wednesday morning. Residents in the area, along with commuters using the roadway, should make plans to use a different route as the repairs are made. Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy detour route for this specific site and it will cause inconveniences for those who routinely use the bridge in their travels.

“It is unfortunate, but we hope to have it reopened soon,” Clark said. “If all goes as planned and the weather cooperates, we can hopefully have it repaired in a couple of weeks.”

According to officials the three pilings that have to be replaced have not previously been identified as problematic in previous inspections. Five wooden pilings on the same bridge were replaced with steel structure after an inspection closed it in 2018. Steel pilings will be used in this repair project as well.

Unfortunately, the Mason Creek Bridge may not be the only local bridge closure in the coming weeks. Inspections on eight additional bridges with wood pilings are set for October and some of those bridges have pilings that could be determined to be inadequate. Supervisors are hoping the inspections will not turn up issues that will require immediate closure of any of those bridges and roadways as they anticipate having the funds in place from the bond issue this coming spring.

The bond money, which would be paid back over a 15-year term, will be used to make repairs to transportation infrastructure across the county based on need, meaning bridges facing closure or weight load reductions would be first on the list for repairs or replacement. Each district will have projects funded by the bond money, but supervisors say they will be prioritized without regard to district lines.

“It is an opportunity for Greene County to get a leg up (on needed repairs) and not be behind the game and constantly playing catch up,” attorney Paul Walley told board members at a meeting last month. “This will allow you to be proactive.”

Supervisors plan to repay the bond debt using a relatively new revenue stream – the state’s internet sales tax. Supervisors believe the funding will cover the full cost of the bond program, but acknowledged they may have to assess millage to cover the debt down the road if the program is changed.

According to engineer Jason Lamb, some of the projects being planned will call for the replacement of every component of a bridge, while others will focus on replacing timber pilings with concrete pilings while reusing the concrete decks on the structures. All work recommended under the bond program will be intended to have a 50 – 75 year design life, Lamb has said.

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