AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A group of people living near Austintown’s Lanterman Road Bridge is not happy about plans to demolish it without replacing it.
The bridge spans Interstate 680, just north of the Meridian Road interchange. There are no entrance or exit ramps. It takes Lanterman Road over the freeway.
A study by the Ohio Department of Transportation recommended the bridge be completely eliminated and not replaced.
People against getting rid of the overpass and replacing it with cul-de-sacs said it will shut their neighborhoods off from the rest of Austintown.
Ray Marsch, with ODOT, said they like to get 50 to 75 years out of a bridge.
The Lanterman Road Bridge is 52 years old and nearing the end of its lifespan.
“This bridge…it’s a relatively low-traveled bridge compared to other bridges throughout the counties,” Marsch said.
The ODOT study showed only about 300 vehicles use the bridge every day.
The study says tearing it down and not replacing it would save taxpayers $3.8 million.
“The best way would be to just kind of tear the bridge down because that would save the taxpayer money because this is a relatively low-traveled bridge,” Marsch said.
“I’m worried about safety,” said Brenda Moore, who lives east of the bridge.
She said replacing it with cul-de-sacs will cut her neighborhood off.
“Cut the road. We’re going to have two dead ends. School buses won’t be able to get around. They’ll have to walk out to the corner in the dark, in the woods. I don’t think that’s very safe.”
“One of the first concerns that came to mind was response times for our police, and fire and EMS,” said Austintown Trustee Jim Davis.
He said the township is studying response times without the bridge and is withholding an opinion until that study is complete.
Davis, and the people who live along Lanterman Road, also alluded to the poor condition of the street as a big reason why so few people use the bridge.
“Unfortunately, I think it does skew their statistics when they’re talking about traffic counts over that bridge because nobody wants to drive on it,” Davis said.
“Nobody comes down here because of the deplorable condition of our road,” Moore said. “So they have been avoiding it because our cars are getting beat up and we can’t get safely past here without wrecking up our cars.”
The Mahoning County Engineer is responsible for maintaining Lanterman Road.
Engineer Pat Ginnetti said it’s not true that the poor condition of the road is a reason the bridge is not being used.
He also said the low traffic count makes it difficult for him to secure money to fix the road.
Since he’s been engineer, Ginnetti said 21 major road projects have been completed in Austintown.
If all goes as planned, the project to demolish it will begin in late 2022 or 2023.
The public will have a chance to speak on this issue. An open house public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Four Mile Run Christian Church in Austintown.