Crain Avenue bridge still closed

DKS Editors

Construction on the Crain Avenue Bridge is taking longer than anyone expected. The bridge, originally scheduled to reopen last Wednesday, will remain closed until Dec. 12 at the earliest.

“The utilities have to be reconnected, and the first preliminary plan to do that was found to be inadequate based on what was uncovered once the debris was removed from underneath the bridge,” Kent service director Eugene Roberts said.

The bridge closed Nov. 20 when a 119-car CSX train filled with coal failed to make the bridge’s 14-foot clearance. As a result, storm and sewer lines located underneath the train were damaged. City workers started repairing the lines Nov. 24, but Roberts said drawbacks to reconstructing the pipes have extended the deadline.

“Every turn of the way, we find another problem with what things we should do,” he said. “To connect dot D to dot E becomes more and more difficult each day.”

In an inspection on Nov. 22, Portage County engineer Michael Marozzi said the accident caused no new structural damage to the bridge and approved its reopening.

But Roberts said the bridge would have to close down again if it was reopened because of the damaged pipelines. Sewage has been pumped from the damaged line to a sanitary manhole on Water Street.

In a 2007 inspection, the bridge was rated as a level IV bridge, meaning it is structurally deficient. A two-and-a-half year reconstruction project is scheduled to begin in March. Despite complaints from some that the bridge should remain closed until the reconstruction projects, Roberts said the bridge needs to eventually reopen for emergency vehicles.

“One of the issues discussed about the bridge being closed by our fire chief, is that depending on the location of a emergency call, the response time is increased by the bridge being closed,” Roberts said. “We’d like to be able to see the bridge open so everybody has equal access to emergency service and the public roadways.”

Contact public affairs reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected].