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Roche de Boeuf interurban bridge project

Asset Inventory / Inspection

Project Status

  1. Proposed

  2. In Development

  3. Pre-construction

  4. Construction

  5. Completion

Current status of the project

ODOT made the decision in December of 2021 to move forward with demolition of the bridge after an extensive effort to find a buyer for the bridge and adjoining property was unsuccessful. The project is currently in the environmental process, which is being lead by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There is currently no estimate on when the environmental process will be complete, but funding to demolish the bridge has been secured, tentatively in 2024. Until the environmental process is complete, no work toward demolishing the structure will take place.

The effort to find a buyer included a public auction on June 30, 2021. The highest bidder submitted a bid of $6,500. Twenty days later, the highest bidder withdrew the offer, and the second bidding party then signed a contract to purchase the bridge for the auction’s next highest bid of $6,000. 

As part of the auction criteria, the successful bidder was required to submit a feasible plan to retain and maintain or remove and clear the bridge structure and its fallen remnants, including appropriate commercial liability insurance. Neither party followed through. ODOT then began pursuing demolition.

About the bridge

The Roche de Boeuf interurban bridge crosses the Maumee River between Wood and Lucas counties in northwest Ohio. The earth filled arch structure, which originally carried an interurban trolley line for the Ohio Electric Company, was built in 1908. The structure was abandoned in 1937 and has fallen into disrepair.

The structure spans over the Maumee River, which is a state scenic and recreational river, an Ohio Department of Natural Resources designated water trail, a U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers navigable waterway (Section 10), a U.S. Coast Guard regulated waterway, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency designated warm water habitat and primary contact recreation water (suitable for swimming), and mussel habitat stream, although not in this location. 

One of the northern bridge piers was built upon a natural bedrock island in the river, which has been a landmark since around 1750. The rock island is now called Roche de Boeuf, which has a modern translation to “rock of beef” or “rock of buffalo.” In the 18th century, French settlers called it “Roche de Bout,” “Roche de Boo,” “Roche de But,” or “Rose de Boo,” which translates to “rock on end.” The rocky island is a historically important way-finding point and meeting place. Historically it was a documented meeting place for native Americans and early settlers, and also for modern day festivals (Roche de Boeuf Festival). About a third of the original rock island was removed during construction of the bridge.

History of the Roche de Boeuf interurban bridge

1907 – Land bought by the Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad Company (formerly Lima and Toledo Traction Company).

1908 Interurban bridge constructed and used as an electric interurban trolley line.

1937 – Tracks removed and bridge abandoned.

1941 – Waterville bridge (Mechanic Street) collapses and the interurban bridge was used as a temporary automobile crossing due to shortage of steel during World War II.

1943 State of Ohio purchased the interurban bridge.

1946 – Traffic returned to the Waterville bridge (Mechanic Street) with new truss.

1972 – Interurban bridge listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1974 – Roche de Boeuf Bridge Historical Society made an unsuccessful effort to preserve the bridge.

1983 – ODOT deemed the bridge unsafe for equipment traffic. The structure is no longer considered a bridge because it does not carry traffic and is not over vehicular traffic. It is not assigned a structure file number and is not inspected like all other bridges owned by public agencies.

History of the current project

October 2017 – ODOT receives letter describing safety concerns for watercrafts.

January 2018 – ODOT kicks off project to improve safety.

April 2018 – ODOT sends invitations to stakeholders (adjacent landowners, local governments, local emergency response agencies, local schools, local historical societies, state agencies, and tribal nations) to notify them of the project to improve safety on the waterway.  

September 2018 – ODOT sends letters to surrounding property owners to notify them of survey activities in the area.

2018 and 2019 – Land and environmental surveys occurred, data was collected, and a feasibility study was developed to research alternatives by ODOT-hired consultants.

August 2019 – Alternatives analysis from the feasibility study and project information presented and feedback requested.

September and October 2019 – Feasibility study revised based on stakeholder comments and public meeting advertised.

November 2019 – Public meeting held to present project information and alternatives analysis from the feasibility study.

2020 – Feasibility study revised based on public comments. Preferred alternative to be chosen and engineering design to begin.

2021 - Extensive outreach made to historic and tribal groups and to public entities to secure a buyer for the property. As no entity stepped forward, the bridge and property were offered at public auction on June 30, 2021. The initial successful bidder failed to follow through with the terms of the sale. A second bidder also failed to follow through with the terms of the sale. ODOT then made the decision to move forward with demolition of the bridge.

2022 - The demolition project is currently in the environmental phase. The bridge is tentatively scheduled for demolition in 2024.

Details of the public auction, June 30, 2021

A notice of sale of excess land and notice of auction were sent to abutting property owners on May 6 and May 26, 2021, respectively. A legal ad was placed in two local newspapers the week before Memorial Day week. The ads were published in both papers on two consecutive weeks. A news release was issued June 8, 2021.

A “For Sale” sign and an all-weather box containing fliers with property and auction information will be posted at the site prior to the auction. The city of Waterville will be provided the flier and be asked to advertise the auction on their electronic sign at the city’s clock tower. Social media will also be used to share the auction information.

Will there be a registration of bidders or a bidder’s packet?

There will not be a registration of bidders or a bidder’s packet, but those who are interested in bidding will be asked to sign in the day of the auction.

How will the auction be conducted?

The auction will take place at Maumee Rotary Pavilion at Side Cut Metropark,1025 W. River Road, Maumee. The auctioneer will open the bidding at 10 a.m. Only those who are physically present will be able to place a bid. We will leave the bidding open until the last bid is received and then close the auction.

Will proxy bidders be permitted or only in-person?

Only in-person bids will be accepted. There will be no virtual, mail-in, or email bids accepted.

What happens immediately after the auction?

Once the auction is closed, the buyer (if one steps forward) will be required to provide that day three-fourths of the bid amount. Payment may be made in cash or cashier’s check. They will sign a contract that day. Approximately six to eight months will be required to secure the deed. Once the deed is secured, the sale will be final.

Is the liability for the person who buys the land and bridge the same as it is for ODOT?

A private entity carries at least the same, if not more liability than a government agency. Public entities have certain protections against liability that individuals do not have. Any entity purchasing the property would assume all liability.

Can an entity or individual purchase the land and bridge and allow the structure to remain as is, and perform no maintenance or demolition of the structure?

No. At the time of purchase, the buyer will be required to provide how they will address the safety concerns that exist with the property. A detailed disclaimer may be found online.

How soon will demolition of the bridge occur if the property does not sell?

We anticipate the demolition will not occur for likely two years following the auction. That time will be needed to secure the necessary permits, coordinate with various agencies, develop the demolition plan, and secure a contract.

Can the bridge and land be purchased separately?

No. The bridge and the land will be sold as one unit. The historic Roche de Boeuf rock will not be sold.

Has the bridge and property previously been offered for sale?

Yes, the property was first offered to other public entities. ODOT is now offering the property and bridge for auction because a buyer did not step forward during that opportunity.

Can the purchaser re-sell the property to a third party?

Yes, the buyer can sell the property to a third party, with the knowledge that the owner assumes all liability regarding the property.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the auction being advertised?

A notice of sale of excess land and notice of auction were sent to abutting property owners on May 6 and May 26, 2021, respectively. A legal ad was placed in two local newspapers the week before Memorial Day week. The ads were published in both papers on two consecutive weeks. A news release was issued June 8, 2021.

A “For Sale” sign and an all-weather box containing fliers with property and auction information will be posted at the site prior to the auction. The city of Waterville will be provided the flier and be asked to advertise the auction on their electronic sign at the city’s clock tower. Social media will also be used to share the auction information.

Will there be a registration of bidders or a bidder’s packet?

There will not be a registration of bidders or a bidder’s packet, but those who are interested in bidding will be asked to sign in the day of the auction.

How will the auction be conducted?

The auction will take place at Maumee Rotary Pavilion at Side Cut Metropark,1025 W. River Road, Maumee. The auctioneer will open the bidding at 10 a.m. Only those who are physically present will be able to place a bid. We will leave the bidding open until the last bid is received and then close the auction.

Will proxy bidders be permitted or only in-person?

Only in-person bids will be accepted. There will be no virtual, mail-in, or email bids accepted.

What happens immediately after the auction?

Once the auction is closed, the buyer (if one steps forward) will be required to provide that day three-fourths of the bid amount. Payment may be made in cash or cashier’s check. They will sign a contract that day. Approximately six to eight months will be required to secure the deed. Once the deed is secured, the sale will be final.

Is the liability for the person who buys the land and bridge the same as it is for ODOT?

A private entity carries at least the same, if not more liability than a government agency. Public entities have certain protections against liability that individuals do not have. Any entity purchasing the property would assume all liability.

Can an entity or individual purchase the land and bridge and allow the structure to remain as is, and perform no maintenance or demolition of the structure?

No. At the time of purchase, the buyer will be required to provide how they will address the safety concerns that exist with the property. A detailed disclaimer may be found online.

How soon will demolition of the bridge occur if the property does not sell?

We anticipate the demolition will not occur for likely two years following the auction. That time will be needed to secure the necessary permits, coordinate with various agencies, develop the demolition plan, and secure a contract.

Can the bridge and land be purchased separately?

No. The bridge and the land will be sold as one unit. The historic Roche de Boeuf rock will not be sold.

Has the bridge and property previously been offered for sale?

Yes, the property was first offered to other public entities. ODOT is now offering the property and bridge for auction because a buyer did not step forward during that opportunity.

Can the purchaser re-sell the property to a third party?

Yes, the buyer can sell the property to a third party, with the knowledge that the owner assumes all liability regarding the property.

View Project's Public Comments ()

Public comments regarding our projects are always welcome!

This section is for frequently asked questions and project-related questions. You may notice that some projects require one or more formal comment period(s) with deadlines for comments to be considered during certain phase(s) of the project development process. Typically called the “public comment period," this is when ODOT asks the public for input before an important decision needs to be made, such as choosing a preferred alternative. You may notice these periods generally occur immediately following a public meeting.

All comments received, regardless of when or how they are submitted, will be reviewed and considered and/or responded to by the ODOT project team. Comments received through this forum will, when appropriate, be publicly posted along with ODOT’s response; Such comments will be moderated to remove personal information prior to posting.

Please let us know if you have questions, and thank you for your interest and input on the project! 

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