Loan for bridges: Engineer seeks funds to replace structures

For the first time in 30 years, the Auglaize County engineer is taking out a loan for bridge replacement projects.
“I’m not comfortable with taking a loan out for the first time, but in this case I have to,” Auglaize County Engineer Doug Reinhart said. “I don’t want to create debt for the county or the next engineer, but it adds up to me needing to move forward with this.”
The loan from the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) is for $176,000, to be combined with a county match of $44,000. Interest on the 20-year loan is zero percent and it would be repaid at less than $9,000 annually.
The $220,000 total project costs are for the replacement of two Salem Township bridges. One is on Salem Noble Road and and the other on Deep Cut Road at Deep Cut State Park.
The bridge projects are to go out to bid in the spring for planned construction this summer. The bridges are to be done
one at a time so as not to cause travel problems, as they are within three miles of each other in the northwest quadrant of the county.
They haven’t been posted for weight limit restrictions, but Reinhart said if work wasn’t done soon that it would have been required.
Reinhart said they also could have saved money over time or posted the bridges, but inflation would have caused project costs to increase greatly while they were saving up the money for the work and restricting load limits could cause travel difficulties with the bridges so close together.
Posting the bridges would have restricted bus, farm to market, and emergency response travel, he said.
“By replacing them this year, they are up to standards and won’t have to be posted,” Reinhart said.
With 60- to 75-foot spans, the bridges have beams longer than what county crews can make themselves or Reinhart said he would have gone that route with the work.
“Out of 350 bridges in the county, none are posted now, but with income dropping there may be postings soon,” Reinhart said.
Forty-six county bridges were posted when he began his job, but 15 years ago, those that had become problems were repaired and replaced, so that there were no weight-limit restrictions throughout Auglaize County.
“I don’t know how much longer I can keep up with that with declining revenue,” Reinhart said, explaining that his department’s income for 2013 is expected to be below that of 2006.