Neighbors want bridge to stay close

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 1999

If a new bridge is to be built, the Russell, Ky.

Friday, September 17, 1999

If a new bridge is to be built, the Russell, Ky., resident would like to see it at the corridor C location, which would connect the area of Mulberry and Fourth streets with the Bellefonte Street turn onto U.S. 23 in Kentucky.

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"We’re building something to go to the next century," Wells said. "I’d like to see it built on top of the viaduct. The Bellefonte Street connector, I can’t see four lanes of traffic on that little street. And it is not ideal for Ohio traffic because the big trucks can’t go under the underground at the lower end of town. They would still be sending the trucks to the top of the viaduct to link them onto U.S. 23."

A frequent Ironton visitor, Wells said that location would not alter his shopping patterns.

"I use the Ironton-Russell Bridge every day," Wells said. "I go to Tipton’s, Revco and my son lives in Ironton. I also go to the restaurants and eat a lot. I do a lot of business in Ironton. And it wouldn’t bother me to drive three blocks. If you can’t drive that far, shame on you."

But moving the bridge would be too costly an option, Ironton resident Josh Collins said.

"I’d say the best idea is to leave the bridge where it is," Collins said. "It would save money if they just keep the old bridge and do repairs."

Money, however, will likely become the determining factor, Brenda Jenkins said.

The Ironton resident doesn’t believe residents’ opinions will matter in the decision-making process.

"The bridge is going to go where the money is," she said. "It’s a basic fact in everything that happens down here. Whoever has the most money will get the bridge where they want it."

The only bridge option Riverside Drive resident Jim Reneau sees affecting Ironton’s and Russell’s business districts is the one that would connect the Mastin Avenue area to the Ashland Drive and U.S. 23 intersection – Corridor D.

"If it has to be A, B, C or D, I’d want it to be C," Reneau said. "C is close enough to the Ironton-Russell business districts that it wouldn’t disrupt business too much. If they built at Corridor D, though, what’s to stop me from going to Kroger’s instead of Tipton’s – nothing."

And those two options are the only ones available if the state wants to reduce the number of residents and businesses affected by the new construction, Reneau added.

"Option A, down Railroad to Ferry, would displace the most residents," he said. "Option B wouldn’t displace a lot of people, but it would take out the Depot and the new Ironton water plant – that’s not too smart."

Reneau has the perfect solution to all this bridge talk, however.

"I guess in a perfect world, the stupid State of Ohio would consider the Wurtland option and reduce the weight limit on this bridge," he said. "They could give us another 20 years and leave us … alone."

Kentucky is constructing a new two-lane industrial highway near Grayson on I-64 to U.S. 23 in Wurtland, Reneau said.

"If they want a tie-in with no traffic lights, residences or businesses, why not tie into I-64," he said. "Why not put a bridge at the foot of the Wurtland road that would tie into I-64, U.S. 52, U.S. 23, and eventually the new interstate in Ohio. They should consider the economic development for the whole region when looking for a place to build a new bridge."

A bridge built in the Mastin Avenue area would seem a better idea to Gerald Martin of Ironton.

"If they aren’t going to leave the old bridge, I think they should consider the Mastin Avenue area," Martin said. "The property in that area seems to me to be cheaper, so it would at least save money during that part of the process."

But Martin said he still holds out hope that ODOT will reconsider and return to both Ironton and Russell for further talks and negotiations.

"I agree with Ironton City Council’s resolution. They are doing the right thing," he said. "ODOT should have asked someone first instead of just telling us we only have four choices."

Residents on both sides of the river have valid arguments about where the new bridge should be located, Ashland, Ky., resident Bruce Dixon said. But, placing the bridge is just one problem ODOT will encounter during the process.

"If they come out at Mulberry Street, what are they going to do when they are at Eight, Ninth and 10th streets?" Dixon asked. "They really need to think about all that traffic heading through residential sections."

A frequent Ironton visitor, Dixon said the bridge is an essential link between the two communities. He suggested a different locale for the bridge.

"It might be wise to consider placing it in the lower end near Hanging Rock," he said. "If they do that, it might open up all that land down there that no one seems to know what to do with."

Ironton resident Keith Carroll, however, would rather see the bridge at Railroad Street.

"I don’t want it in the upper end of town," Carroll said. "It’s got to be in the lower end, and with those nice, wide access roads, I think Railroad Street is really the best place for it."

Despite the varying opinions and comments from residents, businesses and city officials, ODOT has not yet returned any decision - nor have representatives been back in contact with Ironton city officials concerning the bridge.

At this point, it is a wait and see situation, city officials said.