YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Each bridge in the Valley falls in a range of different conditions.
The law requires them to be inspected every year. The results in Mahoning County sit inside a binder in Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti’s office.
Ginnetti feels the county has been aggressive at making sure its bridges are in good condition. He attributes much of that to his two predecessors who benefited from a bridge bond in the 80s, which paid for improving bridge conditions.
“We’re lucky that we don’t have any bridges that are that are in such bad condition that the roads need to be closed,” Ginnetti said.
Trumbull County has 378 bridges, but not all of them are in perfect condition. Deputy Engineer Gary Shaffer said about 20 are currently posted for weight limits to protect them until they are fixed.
“We work for funding, acquiring funding to replace those and/or rehab those bridges,” Shaffer said.
Trumbull County has money for two replacements and three rehab projects this year. It has projects lined up through 2027 to fix others.
One thing county officials are noticing is some bridges need updating to handle today’s farming equipment since the bridges were built in the 1930s.
“They’re functionally obsolete,” Shaffer said. “They’re not wide enough in some instances and in other instances they just can’t carry today’s traffic.”
Infrastructure has been a big buzzword for lawmakers. Last year, Mahoning County finished four bridge replacements, including this bridge on Lipkey Road. Those projects cost $765,317.
Both counties know it takes money for these projects and are optimistic the Bridge Investment Act could pass along more funding.
“I am, but I’m also cautious because with every federal dollar, there’s usually a local match,” Ginnetti said.
And county budgets are a little tight.
A big bridge project ahead is the Market Street bridge — Ohio’s ninth largest bridge. It’s in good condition, but rehab is needed to keep it that way. The county is already looking at it.
Columbiana County Engineer Bert Dawson said bridges are his number-one priority, following the Silver Bridge collapse that occurred just before his first term as engineer.
Dawson said he instituted a bridge inspection, repair and replacement project with many of Columbiana County’s 287 bridges either being repaired or replaced. He said since they got a jump on addressing these issues, the county didn’t have as much of a problem as was revealed by recent inspections.
“Of our 287 bridges, only four are in the poor condition category with a general appraisal of 4. Of these four bridges, two were replaced last year (2022) and one is scheduled to be replaced this year (2023). The last remaining bridge in poor condition is funded and scheduled for replacement in (2026),” he said in a statement.
Dawson added that there are four bridges in the “fair” category, one of which will be replaced this year, one that is being designed for replacement and two that are on low-traffic roads and are closely monitored for signs of deterioration.
“We sometimes feel somewhat cheated as we spent large amounts of our County budget in prior years replacing our deficient bridges and are therefore not receiving many of these free funds now,” he said. “In the last five years, we have replaced seven bridges with contractors and have rehabilitated nine others with our own county forces, which are highly trained and efficient.”