Michael Burwell / Lantern reporter
The nearly $8 million construction project to revamp the Dodridge Street Bridge that goes over the Olentangy River is on budget but not on time.
Construction on the bridge began in August 2011 and was expected to be complete August of this year. Jim Pajk, Franklin County deputy bridge engineer, said the construction on Dodridge Street Bridge, which connects Neil Avenue and Olentangy River Road north of Lane Avenue, is behind schedule because of last year’s rainy fall and winter.
“We had a really wet year last year, a lot of rainfall,” said Adam Fowler, project engineer for Franklin County. “Water elevations in the river and rain was (responsible for) much for the delay.”
The Lantern reported in June that Dodridge Street and the Olentangy Trail, which runs under the bridge, were scheduled to re-open in August, but Pajk said he doesn’t expect it to open until late October or early November.
“We want the bridge opened just like everybody else,” Pajk said. “We do everything we can do to meet the deadlines. We’ve just been unfortunate with the weather.”
Pajk also said the roadway and trail have to be open at the same time.
Despite the delay in completion, the project’s budget remains at almost $7.7 million. Pajk said the Ohio Department of Transportation specifications enable weather extensions for the project.
The Dodridge Street Bridge was in need of reconstruction, Pajk said. He said it needed to be completely replaced and parts of the bridge were more than 100 years old.
Fowler said crews have been working on the bridge portion of the project throughout the summer, including tightening up the steel cables that run through the bridge and tying down anchors, which are steel cables drilled into rock and grouted to support the ends of the bridge.
Fowler also said crews are putting on hand rails and removing temporary supports.
Some benefits of the new bridge include a barrier separating the road from the sidewalk, which was expanded to 8 feet on each side of the road, about twice as wide as it had been.
“The alignment of the road is a little bit better, took a little bit of the sharper curve out,” Fowler said. “Also, we took the pier out in the middle of the river, so that will let water flow a little bit better and the trees and debris won’t get caught up in that. It will be a little bit nicer too.”
Students living north of campus said they have experienced problems from not having access to Dodridge Street. Matt Peitsmeyer, a graduate student in exercise science, said it’s inconvenient to have to go to Lane Avenue to get to the Kroger and gas stations on Olentangy River Road.
“I was able to just take (Dodridge Street),” said Peitsmeyer, who lived north of campus for the majority of his time as an undergraduate student at OSU. “I could be at Kroger and back in like 20 minutes, but now I have to go down (to Lane Avenue), and since all of that traffic is funneled onto Lane, it takes you 20 minutes just to get from Neil (Avenue) to Olentangy.”
Matt Sheffield, a graduate student in physics, said not being able to use Dodridge Street is inconvenient on game days and it “would just be a bonus” when the bridge is done and usable.
“The contractors are trying really hard at this time to get it opened as soon as possible,” Fowler said. “We know it’s a big impact to the community around here, so we’re trying our best to finish it as fast as we can.”