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First responders now have shorter detour

Residents in the Bergholz area who have been concerned about the problems created when a bridge along county Road 53 was closed received a bit of good news last week.

Officials with Jefferson County 911 and the Bergholz and East Springfield fire and emergency medical services worked out a plan that will cut more than 15 minutes off of response time to about 15 homes.

It’s been an issue since April, when engineers ordered the bridge, which sits about 1 mile outside of Bergholz, closed after it was determined that overweight trucks had damaged the structure to the point it could not be repaired.

The detour that was established added about 25 minutes to what had been about a five-minute drive. And, while that certainly is an inconvenience to the residents, it was a much bigger issue to first responders. One of the roads along the route, county Road 54, is paved only with gravel and features steep hills, which make it even more difficult for ambulances and fire trucks to reach those in need of assistance.

It’s a problem that is expected to get even worse during the coming winter months, and it led to a townhall on Sept. 5 that attracted more than 150 area residents who expressed their frustrations about the situation.

The solution involves the use of a former mining road, which has been closed with a couple of locked gates. Keys to those locks have been placed in Bergholz and East Springfield fire trucks and ambulances, and the new route should cut response time to six or seven minutes.

As for the bridge, design work on its replacement is under way, county officials have said, and construction on the $2 million project is expected to be completed next summer.

Until then, residents will have to take the long way around on their travels, but, thanks to the efforts of 911 and fire and safety officials, first responders will at least have an easier path to complete their work.

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