Recent heavy rains may have made it appear that the Panhandle Road bridge was being washed away, but the remnants motorists are seeing is part of a $4 million replacement project.
According to Delaware County officials, Panhandle Road was closed at the bridge for six months beginning on March 21, and is expected to reopen on Oct. 14. The bridge connects Panhandle from U.S. 23 to Hudson Road over the Olentangy River.
The old concrete arch bridge is “structurally deficient,” the county engineer’s website said. In addition, the narrow bridge was the site of many accidents, including one in 2013 that closed the road for a week to replace a guardrail.
“Rehabilitation of the bridge was considered; however, population growth in the area is expected to create the need for a bridge that is significantly wider than the existing bridge,” said the engineer’s website. “The existing arch cannot be widened to accommodate the additional lanes that will be needed, so replacement is the only feasible alternative to provide for the continued functionality of this bridge.”
Renderings of the project show that the lighted and railed bridge will be able to accommodate pedestrians. There will be a sidewalk, two westbound lanes and two eastbound lanes.
The project also involves the city of Delaware, although the bridge is just outside of the city limits. On Jan. 11, City Council unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing the funding of the Panhandle bridge water main construction.
“Delaware County will be replacing the bridge, and as part of that construction, we have an agreement to install a new 12-inch, 350-foot encased water main that will be attached underneath the bridge,” said Brad Stanton, the city’s public utilities director, at that council meeting. “We’ll establish Delaware city water to existing customers that are currently served by Del-Co Water, and then establishing water service to the east side of the river to route 42. The water main costs approximately $134,680. The funding was appropriated and approved in the 2015 capital improvement program budget.”
“The city was required to abandon an existing 2-inch water line that crossed the Olentangy River in 2009 for the Ohio Department of Transportation Panhandle low-head dam removal project,” the council fact sheet said.
Delaware City Manager Tom Homan told council: “If Merrick Parkway were ever to come all the way over to 23 as envisioned in our transportation master plan, that would wind up with that bridge and then ultimately get all the way over to (routes) 36/37. That becomes part of that bypass, but that’s decades away.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.