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Council wants time to talk about bridge

Ironton City Council is vying for more time, more talks and more options from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Friday, September 10, 1999

Ironton City Council is vying for more time, more talks and more options from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Before ODOT officials choose a plan of action concerning placement of the new Ironton-Russell Bridge, which is scheduled tentatively for construction in 2003, council members want more of an opportunity to add the city’s input.

"We weren’t given any time by ODOT and Baker and Associates –  any comments, objections or suggestions have to be in by (today)," council chairman Jesse Roberts said at Thursday’s regular council meeting. "We felt that a resolution, although it by no means binds the state to working in only that corridor, would strongly suggest that we aren’t going to support what is not in the best interest of the two communities any decision strongly affects."

Despite about a 10-day time constraint on the decision-making process, councilman Leo Ulery said he believes it does not take long to decide to do what is best for the city. And, none of the four corridors, as proposed by ODOT, will fall into that category, he said.

"I do feel that we’ve had enough time," Ulery said. "We’re not telling the state we don’t want a bridge; we’re eliminating three of the four options and asking them to make modifications. We’re trying to tell the State of Ohio to meet with us and work out a solution that benefits all the residents of Ironton."

By unanimous vote Thursday, council members passed a resolution asking ODOT and Baker and Associates to return to the city, meet with council members, businessowners and residents and consider either modifying the "Corridor B" plan to leave the current bridge open while constructing a new bridge beside it or present more options.

"This resolution does not reject a bridge," councilman Joe Black said. "It is my feeling that we have to do whatever possible to support the life blood of downtown Ironton. This bridge will directly affect that."

Presenting four plans from which to choose –  plans that were formulated without consultation with either Ironton or Russell, Ky., the two communities directly affected by the bridge –  is an unacceptable way to handle the project, he added.

"To my knowledge, there was no request for input, either from council, the administration or any other type of governing body, before ODOT formulated these four plans we have been directed to choose from," Black said. "Instead of asking for input after the fact, I would hope ODOT seriously considers coming back to these two communities and asking for our input before the project goes any further."

Business owners and members of the Ironton Business Association gave both verbal and written support of council’s resolution in an effort to show solidarity among city residents and officials.

"I’ve lived in this community for more than 30 years, and I’m very proud to see that council has the backbone to stand up for all the citizens," resident and business owner Ralph Whitman said. "This is something we need to stand together on, and I’m happy to see council is taking steps toward that."

Council members said they will submit the resolution, along with petitions from residents and the IBA, to ODOT before the deadline.