DEFIANCE — With the excavation of the river bank expected to be finished this fall, officials have set their sights on the next phase of improvements to the Blanchard River at Findlay: replacement or modification of the Norfolk Southern Railroad bridge in the downtown.

The Maumee Watershed Conservancy District board, Defiance, voted today to approve an agreement to investigate the options. In the agreement, the board and the Hancock County commissioners agree to pay for plans to modify or replace the bridge. Stantec engineering will develop the plans.

Stantec will be paid $144,000 for the engineering, and the agreement will reimburse the Norfolk Southern Railroad $30,000, which is anticipated to be its cost in reviewing the plan.

Money from the county’s flood fund will pay for the engineering and review.

Supports for the bridge, which crosses the Blanchard River near downtown Findlay, have been identified by Stantec as a “pinch point” in the river. Modifications or replacement of the bridge would be designed to stop the supports from acting like a dam during floods.

The Hancock County commissioners approved the agreement during their regular meeting today.