Closed to traffic for more than three years following an inspection that deemed it unsafe, residents and community members of German Township had to avoid the Harrison County Road 51 Bridge and travel miles out of their way to get to their homes, schools, and businesses. The detour not only delayed emergency responders to the area, but also led to increased school bus traffic on nearby unpaved roads that are less safe. A structurally deficient, 172-foot-long, three-span bridge spanning Columbus & Ohio River Rail Road tracks, Harrison County wanted to replace the structure and improve approximately 800 feet of approach roadway. There was also an abandoned railroad tunnel under the existing abutment that required careful consideration during the replacement.
As a result of work RETTEW performed for one of our natural gas clients, Harrison County wanted to work directly with RETTEW on the County Road 51 Bridge. They engaged us for a preliminary engineering study and preliminary plans, environmental coordination and document preparation, detailed design and bidding documents, and right-of-way plans. One project challenge we overcame was permitting due to a large bat habitat in the abandoned tunnel. As a proposed innovation, we recommended a single-span, steel beam structure that spans the entire railroad cut but avoided the abandoned tunnel. Township residents, the School District, and other community members will benefit from a new bridge, no more detours, and safer routes to schools.