Trotwood leaders concerned with construction timetable as main road to remain closed into 2023

TROTWOOD — Delayed emergency response times and severe loss of revenue for area businesses have been some of the issues raised by city leaders over a long-term road closure in Trotwood.

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Free Pike near state Route 49, one of the main thoroughfares into Trotwood, has been closed for months by the Montgomery County Engineer’s Office. The office notified Trotwood leaders this week the project to fix the bridge would require an ongoing road closure that will last into next year.

The project to fix the bridge is currently on a timetable to start in the spring of 2023, but the road will need to remain closed until the project is completed.

This week, Trotwood City Manager Quiney Pope Sr. sent a letter to the engineer’s office expressing several concerns with the current lengthy closure, and the expected closure for several more months.

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“Although the improvements will have long-term benefits to the community, I want to make you aware of the serious challenges this has posed on our small businesses that have already had to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The small businesses located along Free Pike/Main Street stand to lose as much as 40% of their revenues during this closure and the losses could cause them to close,” Pope said in the letter, obtained by News Center 7.

But the issue isn’t just the health of area businesses. City leaders also said lives are at stake because the road closure has forced a longer detour that’s delaying emergency response times.

“(The construction timeline) was a little off putting, you know. When responding to an emergency situation where someone’s life is in jeopardy,” Trotwood Police Chief Erik Wilson told News Center 7′s Haley Kosik.

“We’ve had some incidents where we’ve had to go around. One particular, there’s a house that we go to for a medical issue that’s right beside the closed down part. So, now we have to travel all the way around the construction to get to their residence,” Trotwood Fire Chief Richard Haacke said.

Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner told News Center 7 the bridge has presented a unique problem. Built in the 1960s, the bridge had not been in need of repairs before.

“We’re having lots or erosion problems due to increased runoff and also at this location, it tends to get debris piled up against the bridge and the creeks,” Gruner told Kosik.

Gruner added it is too early to tell what all needs fixed on the bridge and that’s why construction won’t start until next year. The engineer’s office are finalizing the results of over three months of surveying the damage and will work to organize contracting bids.

“It has to be done the proper way, so it lasts a long time in the future,” Gruner said.

Gruner added his office has spoke to first responders about the detour around the bridge and the detour is less than a half-mile around the closure.

“The detour in this case is only three-tenths of a mile longer to go around the detour. We have some projects where there’s as much as a five mile detour for people to get around,” Gruner said.

But for city leaders and first responders that’s not enough and they wish to see the project’s timetable sped up.

“I ask that you do everything in your power to help expedite the reopening of the bridge. The impact of this bridge closure on Trotwood and the region is so significant that I encourage you to make reopening this bridge your top priority,” Pope said in the letter.

We’ll continue to update this story as we learn more.