November 26, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
31°F
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New bridge in Amherst, finally

AMHERST – Through seven long years, Bobbi Miller never gave up hope that someday she would be able to use the bridge next to her house.

The Jackson Street Bridge, which straddles the Norfolk & Southern railroad tracks, has been closed or under construction since 2000.
It finally and quietly reopened Tuesday, much to Miller`s delight, and hundreds of cars drove over the span within a few short hours, she said.

“It`s awesome,” Miller said. “It`s going to take some getting used to, but it`s well worth the wait.”

Mayor David Taylor said he is relieved to finally have his city`s biggest albatross off his shoulders.

“It`s a load off my mind. We beat this sufficiently to death over the past couple of years,” he said. “So we decided it didn`t call for any fanfare. It`s done. It`s open. I want to move on.”

Former Mayor John Higgins had the old bridge torn down in 2000, but had to halt work on the new bridge in 2003 because it had a faulty design.

The city settled a suit with Brunkhorst Engineering of Port Clinton in 2005 and demolished the half-finished bridge to start over.

“It was an unfortunate incident that happened and something we had no control over until we saw it was wrong,” City Council President John Dietrich said.

Since the project originally was budgeted, its costs ballooned from just under $800,000 to about $1.8 million, Taylor said.

Fire officials and contractors did a final walk-through of the bridge Monday and decided to open it to traffic a day earlier than planned, Dietrich said.

Contact Jason Hawk at 653-6264 or jhawk@chroniclet.com.