GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Jim Long has been avoiding the North Bend Bridge when traveling to and from his home for more than a year.
Since construction began in April 2016 to replace the bridge, the already congested area has become a nuisance for the Green Township resident.
The construction is on schedule to be finished in mid to late August, said Brian Cunningham, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation. The bridge runs over Interstate 74, near Exit 14. Cunningham said traffic should become more efficient and safer once the bridge is completed.
Long remains optimistic about the project’s results.
“I can’t wait to see how nice it is once traffic is moving smoothly,” Long said.
Cunningham said before the renovations, the concrete was deteriorating, the paint peeling and the supports on each side of the bridge unstable. Because the bridge needed to be replaced, sidewalk width was extended for the safety of pedestrians. The bottom of the bridge was raised from 14.5 feet to 17 feet so over-sized loads can drive under it.
Sunesis Construction Co. has an $8.2 million contract with ODOT for the project. The state is paying for the project with money from federal and state fuel taxes, Cunningham said.
Christine Mcdy, owner of Christine’s Casual Dining & Drinks on Harrison Avenue said the traffic has been problematic.
“It has been a hassle. People coming from Mt. Airy or College Hill have to go over that bridge to get to my restaurant. I have to use it to take my daughter home and it is very congested during rush hour. It takes several minutes just to get around all the traffic,” Mcdy said.
Carrie Brosz, another Green Township resident, said natives of the area can navigate through the traffic with little trouble.
“That is a popular road, although people from that area know there are a couple side streets where you can sneak around it, “ Brosz said. “I know it’s a busy area, so I try to avoid it.”
Business owner Dianne McWilliams is skeptical about the impact the improvements on the bridge will have on her store, Village Pump Antiques on Harrison Avenue.
“Maybe the bridge will help people come around, but I won’t hold my breath,” McWilliams said. “It would be wonderful for anything to help, but I don’t think it’ll change anything.”
Unlike McWilliams, Mcdy said she is hopeful for the future of her business with the newly renovated bridge.
“People have to go another way around to get to my restaurant, and it’s a little far. If they are able to get here easier, I think we will gain more business from people in those areas,” Mcdy said.
While business owners want to see more customers, Cunningham said he had a different goal in mind for the project.
“From our perspective, we came at this bridge with safety purposes in mind. We are creating a much safer place for people to commute, whether they are walking or driving,” Cunningham said.
Notices on upcoming traffic pattern changes in the area are broadcast on highway advisory radio 1700 AM and posted here.