For the first time in 15 months, the intersections of Defiance’s East River Drive and Fort Street are open at North Clinton Street.
Both closed in February 2019 when the old Clinton Street bridge over the Maumee River was closed for removal and replacement. And although the new Purple Heart Bridge that replaced it opened in December, the East River and Fort intersections remained closed while the bridge contractor — Great Lakes Construction Co. of Medina County — finished peripheral tasks.
Those included curb, sidewalk and walking path construction work among others on both sides of the bridge, but virtually all are now complete, according to Bashar Kanouh, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s engineer for the bridge project.
As such, East River opened around 1 p.m. Monday, followed by Fort Street around 1:30 p.m.
West Fort Street, southwest of the bridge, remained closed Monday as cleanup work is still needed there. The area was used as an equipment staging area, and should be reopened next week, according to Kanouh.
“I feel relief and am happy it’s done because it was a lot of hours, it was a lot of work, a lot of nights and days to get it done,” said Kanouh. “To see it done and complete, and used by the public, that’s what we like to see. That’s what makes the job rewarding.”
Pavement striping is still needed on East River Drive and Fort Street, but this should be completed this week, he said.
Several concrete columns at the northwest corner of the bridge await the placement of a sign welcoming visitors to Defiance sign, which should be installed this week as well, Kanouh indicated.
The final piece to the entire project will be the replacement of a temporary wooden railing along the multi-use path that travels beneath the bridge’s north side.
This will be replaced in July with a permanent metal railing, according to Kanouh.