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Ironton bridge meeting planned

Local officials and civic clubs will sponsor two meetings in Russell, Ky.

Friday, October 15, 1999

Local officials and civic clubs will sponsor two meetings in Russell, Ky., with the Ohio Department of Transportation this month, seeking more information about the impending Ironton-Russell bridge replacement.

The first meeting was organized by Kentucky Rep. Hoby Anderson of Greenup County, Ky., to make ODOT officials aware of Kentuckians’ concerns about the multi-million dollar project.

Ohio transportation planners will be on hand as observers during the Oct. 19 meeting, ODOT spokesperson Holly Snedecor-Gray said.

The meeting will start at 7 p.m. at the Russell City Building.

The second meeting will be held by the East Greenup Kiwanis Club, with co-sponsor the Ironton Area Kiwanis Club, on Oct. 26 at noon at the Fletcher House in Russell.

The bridge, owned by Ohio, links Ironton to Russell across the Ohio River and is used daily by hundreds of residents and shoppers. It’s replacement, planned for because of its 80-year-old status, has caused concern along both sides of the river because new bridge options include building plans at three other sites.

The Ohio Controlling Board already has already approved a $1.1 million contract for environmental studies for the project.

A consultant engineering firm has preliminary plans and has been tallying results from recent public survey meetings, Mrs. Snedecor-Gray said.

ODOT is awaiting a decision on where the bridge will go when construction begins in 2003. The answer could come as early as this winter.

Meanwhile, the meetings should increase public awareness of the issues and help all parties concerned make a decision, said the Rev. Tim Jessen, immediate past president of the East Greenup Kiwanis Club.

"The forum is open to the public, for anyone who wants to know more about the bridge replacement," Jessen said.

The Greenup club came up with the idea shortly after the state unveiled its plans for a new bridge, he said.

"There has been a whole lot of interest in it, and quite a bit of discussion on both sides," he added. "We wanted to provide a forum where people can learn more and share information.

"I think the people in downtown Russell think if the bridge goes, the town goes, too."

ODOT officials say it’s not possible to keep the old bridge and build a new one. But at least one person wants to change their minds by making something old new again – the toll.

Greenup County’s county attorney suggested the toll idea to save the old structure, which would mean buying the bridge from Ohio then operating it as a toll bridge.