Officials hunting for bridge solutions

Photo Provided Barriers blocking access to the truss bridge over Sunfish Creek on Altitude-Miller Road have been tampered with and moved by an unknown individual, as shown in photographs taken by the Monroe County Engineer’s Office. The bridge has been closed for more than a year due to a major slip repair.

WOODSFIELD — The Monroe County Engineer’s Office is contemplating a more permanent way to block access to a bridge on Monroe County Road 6.

The Monroe 6 truss bridge at the intersection of Altitude-Miller Road has been closed for more than a year. The bridge originally was closed due to a major slip repair, Engineer Amy Zwick said. However, there are now many issues with the road.

“The bridge, which is posted at 4 ton (weight limit) — there are two slips on the road. One was FEMA eligible and one was not; the large one was not FEMA eligible. So the road has been closed since, it’s been over a year,” she said.

Zwick said the office is having trouble keeping barriers consisting of more than 1-ton concrete blocks and signage in place where the road is closed.

Although the span over Sunfish Creek has been marked closed for months, an unknown person has moved the massive blocks and broken the signage that prevents people from crossing.

Zwick discussed the matter with the Monroe County Board of Commissioners at Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

“It was reported this morning (Monday). (I) went down and investigated. We had placed concrete blocks and road closed barricades on both ends of the section of County Road 6 many months ago, when it was closed. On one end being down on Sunfish Creek Road, right at the entrance across the old bridge we have down there. This morning we received word that had been messed with, tampered with, and basically someone has gone down there and somehow towed these concrete blocks … out of the way and basically destroyed our barricades,” she said.

The road closure signs and barricades used at the site were purchased with a Spectra grant the county received last year. Zwick said the county does not have additional signs or barricades and cannot afford to purchase new signs.

“I’m requesting that we drive a guardrail all around along the bridge and that way it’s closed. I don’t love the idea because we do have a landowner down there. … Now this (closed road) is open; we can drag the blocks back across, but we don’t have the proper signage,” she said.

Zwick would like to install a guardrail to prevent individuals from gaining access to the bridge. The engineer’s office has had similar problems with individuals moving barricades in the past in other locations, she said. At those times, the county installed guardrailing to fix the problem. Zwick said she is unsure what other option there is to combat the problem.

“It would just be on one end of the bridge. I’m open to other suggestions,” she said.

“For whatever reason, the public is not respecting that the road is closed and (has) taken it upon themselves to open it, so to speak,” she added.

Commissioner Mick Schumacher suggested the use of trail cameras at the location to try and identify the culprit. Zwick said cameras are a viable option, but a costly one. She also said the issue and her main concern is how to immediately fix the road closure to ensure the safety of all residents.

“I understand your reasoning, as long as James (Peters, Monroe County prosecutor) doesn’t have any liability concerns, I’m fine with that,” Commissioner Tim Price said.

Zwick reiterated that her main concern is the safety of the community.

“My concern is just putting some barrels up down there and a sign is not going to cut it. Physically, people will still go around and throw the barrels down the hill, and then we lose barrels that we can’t afford to buy again. It’s really disappointing, and I’m not sure who’s doing it. Shame on them,” Zwick said.

Zwick said that not only is the incident a case of destruction of property, but also endangering the lives of others by opening a dangerous area where residents could potentially become injured. The destruction of property has been reported to law enforcement.

The engineer’s office will discuss the liabilities of the plan with Peters and the Ohio Department of Transportation, then Zwick said she will proceed with the solution to the road closure, potentially installing a guardrail on Altitude-Miller Road.


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