BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — When construction of a Wood County roundabout closed the Waterville bridge in June 2018, downtown business owners and motorists lamented.
When the bridge closes for about four hours on Friday, January 31, the mood is guaranteed to be more celebratory. At 10:00 a.m. that day, officials from the Ohio Department of Transpor-tation, Waterville, the Waterville Area Chamber of Commerce and local businesses will be on the deck of the new bridge for a quick ribbon-cutting before the old bridge closes during the tie-in of the roadway.
Municipal administrator Jon Gochenour said he’s interested in hosting more of a celebration later this year when the weather is more favorable and when all of the finishing touches are complete. Several designs by George Carruth cannot be installed until the weather is warm enough for the epoxy to cure, and Gochenour said he’d like the Carruth family to be a part of that installation.
Rain and flooding during the construction delayed the completion date from September to January, said Rebecca Dangelo, ODOT spokesperson. So far, ODOT has paid about $12.1 million toward the estimated $13.3 million bridge.
ODOT began planning to replace the 1948 truss bridge in 2013, consulting with the city and the Waterville Historic Commission and Waterville Historical Society. As a result, architectural elements from the Columbian House and Roche de Boeuf Bridge are also incorporated into the design.
“Some of the features have been used before, but this bridge is not the typical ODOT bridge,” Dangelo said. “Its features include decorative piers, arched fascia panels, a 12-foot multiuse path, 7-foot sidewalk, outlook platforms and aesthetic lighting.”
Demolition of the old bridge will begin right away, weather permitting. Because the bridges are 7 feet apart, the downstream walkway on the new bridge will remain closed until demolition is complete. The causeway on the Lucas County side – or what remains after flooding recedes – will be built up and used for the demolition process. Just as was done during construction, the causeway will be moved to the other side as the bridge is removed.
The contractor will saw-cut and remove the bridge piece by piece, Dangelo said. Some of the sandstone blocks from the piers will be saved to incorporate into the new riverfront park.
The city has been working on a design for a combination Memorial Park and Parker Square to occupy the land where the old school and park are located. Miller Brothers has been using the land for staging and, once finished, will grade and seed the property by this fall.
More details about the ribbon-cutting will be shared by the city, chamber and ODOT later this week.