An aging bridge that spans a section of Nimisila Reservoir in Green was closed Friday by the Summit County Engineer’s Office.
Built in 1936, the Christman Road bridge had been open with a vehicle weight limit, but had become unsafe, the engineer’s office said in a press release and follow-up email. It had been scheduled to be replaced next year, but the timetable may be moved up, the office said.
Motorists will need to use a detour route that involves Mount Pleasant Road, Arlington Road and Killinger Road.
Summit County Engineer Alan Brubaker said in the release that rapid deterioration has necessitated the move until the bridge can be replaced.
In a follow-up email, Brubaker said the decision was made to protect travelers on the span and that his office would work to expedite a quick replacement.
“While we were hopeful the bridge could remain open safely until the bridge replacement project could begin, we will never take any chances with the welfare of the public,” he said. “We are committed to getting this bridge replaced and reopened as soon as possible.”
The replacement bridge is currently being designed, and the county said it has asked the engineering firm doing the design to expedite the project.
Heidi Swindell, director of administration/government affairs for the engineer’s office, said in an email that the bridge had been inspected every two months prior to Friday’s decision.
“After the latest inspection, engineers recommended the bridge be closed to all vehicular traffic as soon as possible due to advancing deterioration,” she said.
The 86-year-old bridge had been handling traffic of about 1,600 vehicles a day. It had been open with a weight limit of 5 tons, putting it at the top of the list for bridge replacement projects, the engineer’s office said.
Construction on the new bridge is expected to start no later than spring 2023.
A Summit Metro Parks staffer said the park district’s four lots in Nimisila Reservoir Park remain open. Park visitors may have to adjust their route, depending on the lot, but they can be accessed.
The park is a popular fishing draw and is known for its channel catfish and largemouth bass. Other fish in the lake include northern pike, walleye, bluegill, black and white crappie, yellow perch, brown bullhead and sunfish.
It’s also the staging area for several thousand purple martins during the month of August as they migrate south.
At 825 acres, Nimisila Reservoir is the largest body of water in Summit Metro Parks and part of the 13 bodies of water that comprise the Portage Lakes.
An application from the engineer’s office landed federal funding to replace the bridge in fiscal year 2023, which starts next month. Last year, the office contracted with the local office of international engineering firm AECOM to design the bridge replacement.
The new structure will include a 12-foot-wide multipurpose walkway to integrate with a planned trail in Green.
The engineer’s office will coordinate with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to get a right-of-way cleared so construction can begin as soon as possible, the office said.
Leave a message for Alan Ashworth at 330-996-3859 or email him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @newsalanbeaconj.