Allen County officials are taking steps to improve safety on a bridge that has been the site of three traffic accidents since it received a $3 million facelift just three years ago.
The county commissioners on Friday agreed to pay Engineering Resources $120,000 to install barriers around the road across the Tecumseh Street Bridge designed to prevent vehicles from leaving the road and crashing into or through the 424 decorative balusters that line the century-old, 301-foot span.
Highway Director Bill Hartman said the 8-inch curbs have been adequate on other bridges, but the planned barriers are designed to prevent incidents such as occurred in November 2013, when a vehicle containing Mark and Tamee Ann Staulters left the bridge and plunged into the Maumee River, drowning both.
The accidents clouded what had already been a tumultuous period for the bridge, which originally closed for reconstruction in June 2009 and reopened later that year, only to close again when additional problems were detected.
Hartman said insurance should cover some of the cost of repairing damage caused by the accidents, and the balusters will be restored later. Officials have said they will try to determine why the bridge has experienced so many accidents, but traffic in the area has increased because of detours required by construction, including the current closure of the Anthony Boulevard bridge for reconstruction.