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Meeting planned on bridge location

Ironton residents can make their opinions about placement of the new Ironton Russell bridge known in a public forum next week.

Tuesday, August 17, 1999

Ironton residents can make their opinions about placement of the new Ironton Russell bridge known in a public forum next week.

The meeting is scheduled for Aug. 31 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Ohio University Southern Campus Riffe Rotunda.

This meeting is where residents will find answers to many of their questions, Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary said.

"My office receives calls almost daily as to opinions about where different residents think the bridge should be located," Cleary said. "The calls also pertain to questions about details, and my answer is always that there will be a town meeting and we will all find out the answers together."

The meeting will be an opportunity for residents to get details firsthand and to make their feelings known to the people who will be deciding, he said.

"This meeting will be set up a little differently from a standard public meeting in that there will be stations set up for one-on-one personal interaction for the questions," Cleary said. "Everyone will have an opportunity to speak to someone."

With the stations, the meeting time becomes more convenient for all residents, he added.

"Concerned citizens may go any time between the designated hours to make their comments known," he said. "I believe they will have five general locations where the bridge can be placed according to the research and studies they have done, and from the information they gather from the meeting, they will narrow those choices to three."

When the final three locations are picked, more studies will determine placement, Cleary said.

"They are also going to look at the environmental impact, the general consensus as to what the people would like, residential impact and other areas," Cleary said. "I would really encourage anyone that is the least bit concerned about the location of the bridge to attend the workshop at their convenience to let these people know what they want. It will be taken into consideration."

If a resident has a concern or an opinion and does not take advantage of the meeting, the decision will be made without that input, he added.

"People can make a difference in the community, but they have to speak out before the decisions are made," Cleary said. "If they wait until after the plans are made, it is too late."

Last week, ODOT officials conducted more tests on the bridge to compile information for the meeting.

Temporary strain gauges, which measure the influence of a load on a bridge, were placed on various parts of the bridge and a loaded dump truck was sent across the bridge as part of the test.

These tests help determine where permanent gauges will be placed. At this time, ODOT officials do not know where the permanent gauges need to be located, nor have they decided to place a weight limit on the 77-year-old structure.

"The permanent gauges will help us to ensure the safety of the traveling public by letting us know what is happening to the bridge while traffic is flowing across it," said Greg Baird, ODOT District 9 bridge and traffic studies engineer.

Bridge construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2003.