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Meeting scheduled for new bridge

Connecting a new Ironton-Russell, Ky.

Monday, August 30, 1999

Connecting a new Ironton-Russell, Ky., bridge between the shores of the Ohio River will be the focus of a public forum Tuesday.

Those who want to give their opinion can meet with Ohio Department of Transportation officials from 3 to 7 p.m. Aug. 31 at the Ohio University Southern Campus rotunda.

"The whole meeting is set up just so they can hear our input," Ironton mayor Bob Cleary said.

"Your voice will be heard and counted," Cleary said. "And I’ve had numerous groups let me know that they will be there lobbying for one location or another."

One of those groups, the Ironton Business Association, fears ODOT might choose a location far removed from the bridge’s current tie-in near downtown.

"If they can’t build one right beside this one, then we need to keep it as close to this location as possible," IBA chairwoman Lou Pyles said.

"If it moved out of the downtown area, it would devastate this downtown," Mrs. Pyles said.

In today’s fast-paced society, consumers often will not drive an extra block or two if another option exists, she said.

And Russell residents rely on the bridge as an access to Ironton groceries and drug stores, Mrs. Pyles said.

"I would think they would want to keep it close to the same area as well because their businesses depend on us, too," she said. "People have relied not only upon the bridge but its location as well."

Mrs. Pyles said IBA representatives will present opinions and information to ODOT planners at Tuesday’s open forum.

Instead of one group meeting, the forum will feature stations for one-on-one personal interaction for questions, Cleary said.

ODOT has at least five sites mapped out for a new bridge, which will be unveiled at the forum.

"This is where they start making decisions," Cleary said.

"If you’re a concerned citizen and want your voice heard, by all means you have to be there," he said.

ODOT planners are seeking input so they can narrow down the location choices and want to come away from the forum with a public consensus, the mayor said.

"I get calls every day from people with ideas that this is the right location or that is the right location, so this meeting is where you need to be," he said.