The city of Kent has selected a contractor to replace the Harvey Redmond Bridge leading to the Kramer Fields ballpark, which was closed two years ago because of safety concerns.
On Monday, the city approved a $1.35 million contract for the bridge reconstruction with the Millers Brothers Construction firm based in Archbold, Oh. About 84 percent of the costs will be covered by an Ohio Department of Transportation grant.
Kent Parks and Recreation Director John Idone said that although bidding was higher than the $1.1 million the city originally estimated it would cost, Kent was able to secure additional funds from ODOT, increasing the total from $968,000 to $1,139,800.
"We're excited that we were able to obtain some additional funding to take care of the increased construction costs," Idone said.
READ PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Mussels add to delay of bridge construction in Kent
The current bridge, a wooden structure built in the 1940s with a six ton load limit, has deteriorated from the debris and friction of the Cuyahoga River. In 2009, Kent applied for grant funds to replace it, but was denied. In 2010, the city reapplied and was approved for funds from this year's cycle, but after an April 2011 inspection showed that one the bridge support piles could collapse, the city closed it until it could be remedied.
Idone said construction on the new bridge, a concrete structure capable of bearing 30 tons, should begin in September.
"They're anxious to get started. There's a sense of urgency in getting the steel ordered as soon as possible, so we're moving forward," Idone said, adding that the contract specifies that the Kramer Field will open to the public by May 1, and the project is expected to wrap up by June 30.
Before the wooden bridge can be torn down, a bed of Eastern Pond Mussels, an endangered species, must be relocated upstream.
The relocation effort was supposed to occur during the week of July 15, but the city had to take a rain check after frequent precipitation raised the Cuyahoga River's water levels, Idone said.
"The high waters prevented it, so we had to cancel it," he said. "The water has still been high since those rains and is just starting to recede now, so hopefully we can do it in the next couple weeks."
Kent Parks and Recreation plans to also spend about $100,000 to restore the four-ballfield park before it reopens, which has fallen victim to vandalism while it sits unused.
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