Major bridge repair approved

ST. CLAIRSVILLE Belmont County commissioners embarked on a new extensive bridge repair project when critical news came before them during Wednesday’s meeting.

Commissioners and members of the Ohio Public Works Committee approved a plan to move Ohio Public Works funding allocated to Sand Hill bridge repairs to the Town Hill Road Bridge. The bridge is located two miles west of Powhatan Point off Ohio 148 in York Township.

“Town Hill has much more critical need,” said Mike Wahl, deputy county engineer.

He added that his next stop is at Marietta to seek the approval from the 10 counties in the district before proceeding. He said he has little doubt it will be approved.

Wahl reported that mandatory the two-year fracture critical inspection on bridge trusses and girders showed Town Hill Road to be in critical need of repair. Wahl said the inspection found three major deficiencies. Results found more than 50 percent section loss to the bulkheads connecting the truss to the forebeams, holes in the stringers, and section loss to the beams.

The bridge weight limit was posted at 10 tons.

“It is deteriorating at a very fast rate,” Wahl said, adding that the bridge is 18 years old and the weathered steel has not held up in a wet environment with little sunlight.

His office proposed adding a pier on the far shoreline on Ohio 148, and drill shafts behind the existing abutments, and set one 40-foot span and one 110-foot span of pre-stress concrete box beams. This will be the largest bridge project the county has done.

The cost of Town Hill Road work is about $700,000. Wahl added that a coal firm has offered to contribute $160,000 to make up the difference.

“This is our longest span that we have anywhere. A very difficult bridge to build,” he said, adding that they hope to complete construction work this year. “We’re fast tracking this thing.”

They hope to start construction Oct. 1 and be completed by mid-December. Bidding would begin in two weeks, followed by the construction of the box beams and drilling. State Route 148 would be temporarily closed in order to set the beams.

He apologized for the inconvenience to the residents, who must come off Mt. Victory down Town Hill Road.

He added that Sand Hill received repairs in the past few days and is now up to 15 tons for the winter. They intend to re-apply in the coming round for Sand Hill. It was the highest rated project in the 10 counties this year and Wahl said it would likely remain at the top of the list.

Wahl noted there is an ongoing problem of deteriorating bridges in the county, with the New Castle Bridge looking bad as well.

DeFrank can be reached at