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ODOT: Cities need to compromise

City councils from Russell, Ky.

Friday, April 13, 2001

City councils from Russell, Ky., and Ironton need to reach a compromise before the Ohio Department of Transportation can move forward with plans for the Ironton-Russell Bridge, state officials said.

The public and city leaders from Ironton and Russell met with ODOT and representatives from their consultant, Baker and Associates, at a meeting Thursday night. The meeting stems from an ordinance passed by Ironton council requesting Mayor Bob Cleary arrange a meeting to discuss the proposed bridge.

Council chairman Jim Tordiff said the meeting was needed because "there has been so many rumors we are simply trying to piecemeal things together so we know what our rights, responsibilities and our options are."

Ironton City Council and Russell Council are supporting opposing views. Ironton’s council has went on record supporting the B-2 bridge plan, which will link both cities downtown districts, while the Russell council advocates the Kentucky-side connection at U.S. 23. Tim Hill, an administrator for ODOT’s central office, said ODOT needs to receive a consensus on the location of the bridge before moving forward with studies that need to be conducted.

Hill said, "We’re trying to meet the requirements of both towns."

Ironton councilman Jesse Roberts said not linking both of the downtown districts would place Ironton in peril. Roberts listed the rash of businesses lost in the city and told the ODOT officials, "It’s going to kill our town."

Roberts told the state officials, "I don’t build bridges and I don’t pretend that I do but I represent people that have fears" over the potential that the new bridge will not link the two downtowns. He told the ODOT officials, "I just want you to give thought to the people that live here."

Russell council members said the new bridge would increase traffic going through the town. The increased traffic, they concluded, would damage the streets and would not allow a smooth flow of traffic. The Russell officials said linking the bridge directly to U.S. 23 will not impede people from coming to the Kentucky town.

One Russell businessman disagreed. Lynn Rice, the vice-president and general manager of SuperQuik said his council is not "aligned" with the wishes of the business owners.

He said Russell town council is "aligned with a group of people that have lived their entire lives in Russell and think traffic is a nuisance." He added, "I’ve got over 3,000 signatures to the otherwise."

Although no decision was made at Thursday’s meeting, ODOT officials did decide to come back to Ironton to further discuss the issues after analyzing the comments made at the meeting. The meeting will be arranged at a future date through the mayor’s office.