Rain delays Archers Fork bridge work

DART-It’s been 77 days and counting since the bridge in this small eastern Washington County community has been closed.

The Archers Fork bridge was closed June 4 for replacement, and the target date for reopening was to be Aug. 26, but crews at the bridge site and Washington County Engineer Roger Wright say it likely won’t be ready on time.

“We’ve had a lot of rain and an unusually wet summer, and there have been delays because of the rain,” Wright said. “We have no exact completion date. We are making steady progress. We are happy with the progress.”

Wright said the workers plan to work Saturday and have been working extra hours each day to get the bridge open as soon as possible.

Gary Bookman, mechanic helper and transportation coordinator for the Frontier Local School District, said the only thing they can have buses do is to go across County Road 25 to Newport and then back to Frontier. They also will have to turn around at County Road 14 just near the span. School begins Friday in the district.

“It will make the route about 20 minutes longer,” Bookman said.

Wright said he will be in touch with the district this week about alternate bus routes or a completion time.

Mike Fox, 49, a surveyor with Ohio-West Virginia Excavating based in Shadyside, was on site Wednesday taking measurements for the concrete to be poured on the bridge.

Fox said they still need to place the panels on the bridge, pour concrete and wait seven days for it to set.

“It will be another week and a half before the deck is ready, and then the landings can go on,” he said.

Fox uses his surveying equipment to “shoot” the top of the existing beam to calculate the concrete’s depth so that it can be poured properly and calculate its depth.

Despite the rain, delays and even being flooded for a couple of days, the list of jobs to complete seems relatively short.

“The next thing to do is pour concrete, add rebar guardrails to put in, get the approaches in and pave the whole thing,” Wright said.

Independence Township Trustee Frank Haught said he is having a difficult time getting around. He lives just about a mile from the bridge on Archers Fork Road. He said he has to drive seven or eight miles out of his way just to get to Ohio 7.

“It’s very inconvenient,” Haught said. “You have to drive a long way to get anyplace. You get the regular scuttlebutt. … Don’t get excited. They’ll get it ready when it’s ready.”