Two days from now Defiance’s new Clinton Street bridge will open.
That is the word from Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) project engineer Bashar Kanouh, who spoke to The Crescent-News late Friday morning for an update.
The bridge opening plan — modified from its original due to high river levels earlier this year — has stayed largely on target since ODOT changed the projected go-date from Thanksgiving to the first week of December.
“I would like to thank everybody in the Defiance community for being patient with us,” said Kanouh. “Hopefully, it will be a nice bridge we’ll be proud of.”
Defiance Mayor Mike McCann said Friday “obviously we’re happy it’s (going to be open). We appreciate everybody’s patience and understanding, and we’re glad to have our community back together again. There’s a lot of people that made this happen — too numerous to mention. We’re very thankful.”
Defiance city officials are planning a bridge opening ceremony at 3 p.m. Monday, between the parking lot of Defiance Public Library and the bridge along Fort Street (south of the Maumee River). The program will take about 45 minutes, and once the ceremonial crossings are completed, the new bridge will open to the public — probably in the vicinity of 5 p.m., according to Kanouh.
The bridge also will be opened for the arrival of Santa Claus this afternoon. The annual event, hosted by the Defiance Development and Visitors Bureau (DDVB), is scheduled for 1:45 p.m., with Santa crossing the bridge from the north on the way to Defiance Public Library for an event there.
When the bridge opens to the public, all four lanes will be open to motorists, Kanouh noted.
A tent will be set up for Monday’s bridge opening ceremony at which various speakers will be on hand.
The list of visiting dignitaries will include ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks and his second-in-command, Assistant Director of Field Operations Kirk Slusher, an Antwerp native. Locally, McCann will offer some remarks as well as Defiance County Commissioner Ryan Mack, a U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
The latter has a connection to the bridge because the new structure will be named the Purple Heart Bridge, in honor of such recipients.
As such, Purple Heart veterans will be invited to cross the bridge following the ceremony along with two other persons — Paul Gearing, selected in a raffle held by the DDVB to be the first person to cross the bridge, and 104-year-old city resident Emily White.