Jan 31, 2022 - News

Infrastructure money targeting Ohio's worst bridges

A wide shot of a cable bridge over a river in Columbus, Ohio.

The Lane Avenue Bridge over the Olentangy River. Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The bridge on South Fourth Street passing over I-70/I-71 near downtown could use some work.

  • Its deck surface is in lousy shape, as are the supports holding it up above six lanes of hectic traffic below.

State of play: This bridge, built in 1964 and carrying up to 18,000 vehicles per day, is among nearly two-dozen in Franklin County deemed by the 2021 National Bridge Inventory to be in "poor shape."

  • These are the bridges officials hope to target with infrastructure spending soon headed Ohio's way.

What's happening: The state is receiving $483 million over five years as part of the bipartisan infrastructure package signed into law by President Biden last November.

  • The funding will address Ohio's highway bridge needs, which federal data shows is plentiful.

By the numbers: Bridges are regularly inspected and categorized into three condition types: good, fair and poor.

Yes, but: That 5% amounts to more than 1,300 bridges in poor condition statewide.

Zoom in: Franklin County fares better than some other metro areas in the state, with over 75% of Columbus area bridges in good condition.

  • Only 2.5% of the bridges here are in poor condition, but well over 100,000 vehicles collectively span these bridges every day.
  • Several bridges in poor conditions are on highways, such as those on South Fourth Street (which doubles as State Route 23) and a busy stretch of I-70 overtop the Scioto River.

What they're saying: The $483 million in funding is meant to be used on bridges in "poor" and "fair" condition, Ohio Department of Transportation press secretary Matt Burning tells Axios.

  • Most of these are maintained by Ohio cities, townships and counties, he says.
  • "With that in mind, we're working through the details so (ODOT) can determine how to best invest these new funds where they're needed most. We hope to have some proposals on that to share soon."

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