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Kungle Road bridge in Norton still not repaired nearly 3 years after collapse

Residents frustrated, grant could help with a fix
Kungle Road Bridge.jpg
Posted at 5:43 PM, Jan 25, 2022

NORTON, Ohio — The seasons change, but the story of frustration remains the same for some residents who live on Kungle Road along the Norton/New Franklin border.

A huge hole remains in the road between Eastern and Vanderhoof Roads nearly three years after the Kungle Bridge collapsed.

Phyllis Osborne, who lives on Kungle Road on the New Franklin side, never expected a fix to take this long and is irritated by what she calls a lack of communication from Norton leaders.

"I just want to know what the heck is going on," Osborne said. "There's just this big hole in the road and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It's not getting smaller."

Osborne said the bridge failure has left an eyesore behind and created detours for EMS crews, bus drivers, and other motorists.

In addition, she feels the hole poses a potential risk to children. After recent winter storms, snow-covered concrete barriers Osborne fears a child could walk around those, fall into the hole, and get hurt.

"It's just a big safety factor to have a gaping hole in the middle of your road," she said.

The bridge was closed in May 2019 and was washed away after a rainstorm a month later.

In the years that followed, there was a battle over who was responsible to repair the bridge: Norton, New Franklin, or Summit County.

The Summit County Engineer's Office determined it was Norton's bridge.

"I don't know what the problem is. I don't know. Obviously, it has to do with something financial because it would have been fixed," Osborne said.

Greta Johnson, assistant chief of staff for Summit County, said she understands why residents are frustrated.

"Unfortunately, when there are government dollars— especially federal dollars at play— it can be a waiting game," Johnson said.

Johnson said the city of Norton has requested a grant through the Ohio Public Works Commission and the county has agreed to match $200,000 to help with the Eastern Road reconstruction project and to repair the Kungle Bridge.

However, officials won't find out if that grant is approved until next month.

"Certainly, if the grant isn't approved, we will get right back to the table and find new ways in which we can try and move the project forward," Johnson said.

Even if the grant is approved, there will be questions as to whether the funding will be enough to cover the cost of a new bridge.

According to Johnson, the estimated cost for a fix in 2019 was $150,000.

"Certainly, we've seen an increase in cost for materials. There have been some delays with shipping times and certainly, the supply chain has proven to be tricky for our construction business," Johnson said.

Osborne said she's tired of delays and wants to see digging— not to remove snow from the gigantic hole— rather to finally construct a replacement bridge.

"It's just time to get real and to focus on what needs to happen, so I hope it does come through and they get to working on it soon."

News 5 reached out to Norton Mayor Mike Zita and Administrative Officer Robert Fowler to ask about a possible timeline for repairing the bridge. Neither responded as of Tuesday evening.