Who is responsible for announcing bridge closings?

That issue was raised when the closed Nashua Road Bridge in Pulaski Township resulted in an ambulance crew, unaware of that status, being rerouted Saturday and taking about 40 minutes to answer an emergency call.

Dan Vogler, Lawrence County Commissioner chairman, explained the county is responsible for 28 bridges. One is Nashua Bridge, constructed in 1878 over the Shenango River in Pulaski Township.

Frank B. Taylor Engineering, the county engineer, inspects the bridges regularly, Vogler said.

“When they believe repairs or replacements are required, they secure bids ... or quotes ... and subcontract the work,” he said.

The decision was made to repair the Nashua bridge deck, requiring the span to be closed.

The usual procedure, Vogler said, is for Taylor Engineering to inform the media — through a press release — that the bridge would close, which was done.

“Ross Taylor, of Taylor Engineering, said they also inform the municipality and the school district, who might route buses through the area,” Vogler said.

“Since the township had posted signs in the area informing that the bridge and road was closed, I guess everyone thought all necessary parties had been informed,” he continued.

“But there is a good chance that the person responsible for notifications did overlook” the Lawrence County Emergency Operations Center.

Bill Sauders, a designer at Taylor Engineering, said bridge repair work began the week of Sept. 3 and was concluded yesterday.

While the deck was being repaired, he said, “folding signs” posted by the township were used to indicate the road was closed.

Sauders said he knows the municipality, the newspaper and school district were notified of the road closing, but does not know if anyone contacted local police or emergency services agencies.

“It is possible that we did not do that on this occasion,” Sauders said. “This is a learning experience. In the future we’ll be sure to notify everyone possible.”

The school district, he said, told him they did not use the bridge because it was posted with a weight limit.

The responsibility for informing the public of road closings was raised this week at the Pulaski Township supervisors meeting.

Township resident James Miller, a former road foreman for the municipality, said just posting the signs is not enough.

“When you fold down those (road closed) signs, you must also call LEOC and tell them the road is closed,” said Miller, whose wife experienced a medical emergency over the weekend.

Current township road foreman David McConahy said he had placed “road closed” signs at two intersections near the bridge. However, McConahy said, he didn’t notify anyone of the closing.

Brian Melcer, Lawrence County public safety director, said, typically, the state department of transportation, the county engineer or the subcontractors contact LEOC to inform it of road closings.

“Generally, whoever is doing the work is responsible to contact us,” he said, adding, “Generally, we get several notifications of projects.”

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