A Columbus engineering firm will design the new state Route 8 bridge that spans the Little Cuyahoga River Valley and links Akron with its northern suburbs.
The Ohio Controlling Board this week approved $12 million for ms consultants inc. to do the design work.
The Ohio Department of Transportation had announced more than two years ago that it would replace the bridge, a 1,500-foot-long span that was built in 1953.
The deck truss is “fracture critical,” meaning if a single component fails, the bridge could collapse, according to state documents.
But the bridge is not in danger of falling down, and the fracture critical terminology is used to describe the type of tension structure, as opposed to indicating there is an immediate threat to its safety, ODOT spokesman Brent Kovacs said. He noted that the state agency inspects bridges once a year.
“If we felt it wasn’t in good shape, we’d close it in a second,” he said.
The $128 million project isn’t expected to begin until after 2020.
The six-lane bridge carries more than 116,000 vehicles per day, and it will be a major inconvenience for motorists while the work is being done.
ODOT has said it plans to maintain three lanes of traffic in each direction during construction by building a new bridge in stages alongside the current one.
The bridge replacement is one of many high-profile construction projects taking place in and around Akron over the next several years.
Those projects include the ongoing work at the Central Interchange; reconfiguring the Interstate 76/77 interchange at South Main Street/South Broadway; and rebuilding the pavement along I-76 in Barberton and Norton.