Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials don’t see anything standing in the way of opening Defiance’s new Clinton Street bridge during the first week of December.
Dec. 2 has been mentioned as the opening date — a Monday for the first week of December — 23 days from now, although the exact day is still a bit tentative.
“Is it exactly that date?” ODOT project engineer Bashar Kanouh asked rhetorically during an interview Friday afternoon. “We are hoping.”
Without an unequivocal commitment to Dec. 2, he and ODOT are confident that nothing can derail the expected opening.
“As of now (Friday afternoon), I don’t see anything changing,” said Kanouh. “We’re still looking for the first week of December. ... sometimes things happen you don’t see — especially in construction — but as of now nothing is in the way of opening the first week of December.”
The one small concern is cold temperatures expected early next week — a high of less than 30 degrees is forecast on Tuesday and Wednesday, for example. This is a consideration when concrete work is involved, but Kanouh said countermeasures — blankets and artificial heat — already are being used.
The concrete work mostly concerns the installation of new sidewalks and curbs along Clinton Street, north and south of the bridge. Sidewalks on the bridge were completed some time ago, according to Kanouh.
Other remaining tasks include:
• finishing the bridge’s concrete walls. This should be completed by the end of next week, Kanouh said.
• completion of the Circle K drive connected to River Drive. Work is expected to be finished next week, he explained.
• traffic light installation at Clinton and East River north of the bridge. The anticipated completion time is next week.
• installation of bridge lighting and railings on the structure’s two viewing platforms — located on the east side of the bridge on both ends. These tasks should be completed within two weeks, according to Kanouh.
Paving was completed within the last few weeks on the north and south approaches to the bridge. And the paving of the new section of Fort Street — just east of the bridge — was completed earlier this week.
The bridge’s surface will remain concrete, and will not be paved with asphalt.
Defiance city officials plan to hold a brief dedication on Dec. 2, according to Mayor Mike McCann, even if that’s not the actual bridge opening date.
“Regardless of whether the bridge is open, or a couple days away from opening, we are going to have a dedication,” said McCann. “There are elected officials we want to have there. We had to pick a date, so we are working with ODOT to determine exactly what the agenda will be, but it will be a brief celebration and then we’re going to go back to work.”
Originally, the project’s general contractor — Great Lakes Construction Co. of Medina County — had hoped to open the new bridge around Thanksgiving, but that plan went awry months ago due to a wet spring and fluctuating river levels.
However, work crews made up enough ground since then to bring the schedule closer to the original timeline.
The project’s contracted construction cost was $8.3 million, with ODOT covering that expense. City officials also have incurred expenses of $533,265 for options such as the viewing platforms and a trail underneath the bridge, as well as an alternative ride program ($46,515) around the bridge detour for qualifying people.