• 79°

Bridge repair starts in 2000

Woodland Cemetery Bridge’s closure earlier this year might be an inconvenience, but the weakened structure cannot withstand the weight of vehicles until repairs are made, city officials said.

Tuesday, August 24, 1999

Woodland Cemetery Bridge’s closure earlier this year might be an inconvenience, but the weakened structure cannot withstand the weight of vehicles until repairs are made, city officials said.

And those repairs will not begin until after the millennium, city engineer Joe McCallister said.

"The bridge will remain closed to vehicles, but it is open to bicycles and pedestrians," McCallister said. "This is for the safety of the residents."

Structural deterioration beneath the bridge’s surface has weakened it considerably, he said. In some places, rusted metal has fallen away, leaving holes in major support beams.

"Two major structural members have failed, and that weakens the bridge considerably," he said.

The total project will cost an estimated $700,000. With city budget constraints, that funding will have to come from outside sources, such as Issue Two grants, McCallister said.

"We will submit our grant application in September, and that is one of our biggest projects for the year," he said. "For this particular grant, the application process is relatively simple. But, we won’t be notified right away."

Instead, Ironton must wait until spring before city workers will receive a green light on the project, meaning residents must wait even longer before traveling over the bridge into the cemetery.

"If everything goes according to plan, the bridge could reopen as early as December of 2000, but realistically, it will be January or February the next year before the repairs are finished," he said.

The federal grant dollars the city is waiting for will only pick up part of the tab, he added.

"The Issue Two grant is really just to get the the engineering and the construction match for the Ohio Department of Transportation bridge repair money, which pays 80 percent of construction only," McCallister explained. "The Issue Two grant will be for around $200,000."

Although city officials said they understand the inconvenience of having the only Ironton-side access to the cemetery closed to vehicles, it is outweighed due to safety concerns.

"We understand that it is inconvenient for residents to drive to Coal Grove in order to enter the cemetery to visit the graves of their loved ones," Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary said. "Residents do need to have access to the cemetery. But, we have a responsibility to keep the residents safe, and this is a part of carrying out that responsibility."

The city will, however, aim for the earliest possible target date in reopening the bridge, Cleary said.

"We’re doing everything we can to expedite the process," he said. "We do understand the need to reopen the bridge, and therefore we feel like it is very important to keep the project moving forward."