CINCINNATI -- A new bridge on North Bend Road is expected to be complete this August, offering hope of less traffic congestion for commuters and Green Township residents. For now, though, drivers who travel the road can expect continued delays.
The Ohio Department of Transportation last April began the project, which includes replacing the North Bend Road bridge and repaving a portion of Interstate 74.
The primary reason for replacing the bridge is wear and tear, but ODOT representatives also hope it will ease traffic congestion from Mercy Health's west hospital and Saint Ignatius Loyola School.
"From a standpoint of congestion out there and just wear and tear, it was time to do some improvements so we can increase mobility and safety," said Brian Cunningham, communications manager for ODOT district 8.
The North Bend Road bridge, which passes over I-74, was built in 1966. While some repairs have likely been done over the years, the current project is essentially replacing the original bridge, Cunningham said.
One of the main concerns was erosion of the hill along the shoulder of the exit ramp from I-74 onto North Bend Road, he said.
In addition to addressing issues related to the erosion, the $8.2 million project includes the addition of a deceleration lane and widening of the bridge's sidewalks.
"It's another lane on the bridge, so it's definitely going to help," said Hamilton County Engineer Theodore Hubbard.
The new bridge also will offer about two additional feet of clearance for oversized truck loads on I-74.
While safety and traffic flow are the key components, the project includes aesthetic improvements as well, with the addition of Green Township's name and decorative gas lights on the bridge.
The current phase of construction allows for a slight increase in traffic flow compared to the first phase. While the construction previously limited the bridge to one lane in each direction, two southbound lanes and one northbound lane are now open for vehicles. Pedestrian access will be off-limits until the project is complete.
Township officials and the Hamilton County Engineer's Office are working with ODOT representatives to keep traffic congestion to a minimum.
"We all tried to work together to minimize the impact," Hubbard said.
The engineer's office set up an alternate route, taking drivers from North Bend to West Fork Road, then along Race and Boomer roads before bringing them back to North Bend south of the bridge.
Green Township officials hired a traffic engineer to monitor and assist with traffic signals during the construction.
While workers repaving about a half-mile of I-74 on each side of the bridge, ODOT officials are working to keep traffic interruptions to a minimum by restricting lane closures to nighttime hours.
"All these things together help minimize the impact on a project like this," Hubbard said.
Most feedback has indicated the construction has so far not been as problematic as expected, said Green Township Administrator Frank Birkenhauer. Although it may cause some congestion for the next few months, the result in the long run is anticipated to improve the traffic flow.
"I think it'll make a big difference in alleviating a lot of that congestion," Birkenhauer said.