Defiance’s Clinton Street bridge closed officially at 9 a.m. Monday, and crews immediately started taking down light poles and fixtures along the bridge.
The lights will be stored until the new bridge is built. Crews from general contractor Great Lakes Construction Co. of Hinckley are working on the project.
Rhonda Pees, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 1, said the lights and railings are being removed immediately and then crews will start cutting the sidewalks before a milling vehicle comes to grind the pavement.
The bridge beams will not be removed until the middle of next week.
“The bridge had to close,” said Defiance Mayor Mike McCann, adding that uncertainty of the closure now is behind the community. The closure had been postponed twice due to weather/water conditions. “This project is moving along.”
The cost of the bridge replacement project is $8.3 million, with the majority being covered by ODOT. The bridge will be out for nine months. According to ODOT, the new bridge will provide better access across the river for pedestrians, bicyclists and those with disabilities, as well as vehicles.
“When it’s done — hopefully within nine months, Mother Nature permitting — we are going to have a bridge that will set the direction we want our downtown to go,” McCann said, adding that downtown Defiance already is moving to be “more vibrant.”
McCann said the downtown will have more of a feel of an entertainment district with shopping as well.
“That I believe the community itself will be proud of and visitors will come on a regular basis,” he said.
Prior to the bridge’s closure, the winner of the Bridge the Gap raffle through the Defiance Development and Visitors Bureau (DDVB) was the last one to drive across the bridge. Winner Tim Sauer, who took along Henry Sauer and Mark Schelling for the ride, drove a Bud Light truck across the bridge. Tim Sauer is with City Beverage.
The DDVB still is selling tickets for a chance to be the first to drive across the new bridge in November. Tickets are $10 each. They are available at the DDVB office, 325 Clinton St., and the city building at 631 Perry St. Proceeds benefit beautification projects in the city.