County working on replacing old bridges

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – They say the Ridge Avenue Bridge in Dayton is haunted, but lately its conditions are terrifying.

“It’s quite rusty,” says Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner. “The steel girders don’t have much life left in them.”

The more than 80 year old span known as the Bessie Little Bridge for the woman who was murdered there in the 1800′s will be replaced starting February 17.

According to the National Bridge Inventory, it is one of 56 structurally deficient bridges in the county which need maintenance.

“We’re spending a lot of money keeping some of these bridges open until we can replace them,” Gruner says.

Montgomery County has five bridge projects over the next five years.

With a budget that hasn’t been increased in 20 years, it is having trouble coming up with the money for those new bridges.

“We’re running into problems coming up with the matching funds for those,” Gruner says. “We’re borrowing money from the state infrastructure bank to get us through the next few years.”

In the meantime, Gruner says the bridges aren’t a danger.

“If they’re open, they’re safe to drive on,” Gruner says.

But for the next year and a half there will be one less to drive on.

We wanted to know what the impact will be for the nearby Boonshoft Museum.

“I’m not particularly concerned,” says Mark Meister with the Boonshoft. “We are a destination. People will find us.”

The bridge will be closed until September 2015. The detour will be Siebenthaler Avenue.

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