Fairfield is working to repair three bridges after annual inspections by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
City engineer Ben Mann said city officials were aware the guardrails on two bridges on Resor Road and one on Winton Road needed replacing, but issues like those “show up in the inspection.”
The first of the three repairs was made on Resor Road near Point Pleasant Park. Crews are now working on the second of the Resor Road bridges, which is adjacent to the Fairfield Greens golf course.
A temporary electronic stop sign is in operation and is impacting traffic. The Winton Road bridge is next to Fire Station 33, and Sunesis Construction will begin on that project in a few weeks.
Mann said there isn’t a risk to traffic as they’re “perfectly fine to drive over the middle,” but the sides holding the guardrails need to be repaired.
ODOT District 8 inspects 1,550 bridges every year, though federal requirements say bridges only need to be inspected every other year, said District 8 spokeswoman Kathleen Fuller. Fairfield has 23 vehicular bridges that receive an ODOT inspection, and they are paid for by an ODOT bridge inspection program.
ODOT has paid for inspections of vehicular bridges for cities and villages with populations up to 50,000, said Fuller. This program started nine years ago as a load-rating inspection but has transitioned into full inspections as a way to help smaller Ohio communities, she said.
“It’s a good planning tool, but it’s also really for safety and for maintaining the integrity of the structure,” Fuller said.
The annual bridge inspections allow ODOT to establish a baseline, “and we can look if there are any issues that need to be addressed” either through maintenance or construction, she said.
“With that baseline, it lets us know — for planning purposes — how far, perhaps, in the future, we may need to look at planning to do a replacement,” Fuller said. “It gives you an idea of the structural integrity from year to year.”
There are no Fairfield bridges that are considered in distress, Mann said. However, the city is aware of a bridge on Happy Valley Drive does need repairs. Fairfield wasn’t able to fix it this year due to funding constraints, he said, and the city will look to make repairs to extend the life of the bridge as a replacement could run $750,000 to $1 million.
The inspections also require the city to lower the load rating for the Augusta Boulevard bridge, which doesn’t impact local traffic, Mann said. It is a non-truck route, so the only issues would come if a resident is expecting a delivery, but there is another route into that neighborhood drivers can use to avoid bridge if they exceed the load limit, which is dependent on the number of axles on a vehicle.
“It’s typical for this type of bridge as it gets older, when you do the calculations, to limit the load,” Mann said. “It’s just a function of it getting older. It would probably be quite a while before it would warrant a replacement.”
It could be 10 to 20 years before the bridge would need to be replaced, Mann said. Load limit signs will be posted within a month, he said.