Placement of Ironton-Russell Bridge has city councils, businesses torn

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 23, 2001

When businesses speak, the government normally listens – but what happens when businesses want different outcomes for the same subject?<!—->.

Wednesday, May 23, 2001

When businesses speak, the government normally listens – but what happens when businesses want different outcomes for the same subject?

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Ironton City Council may change its position on the touchdown points of the proposed Ironton-Russell Bridge after the Public Utilities Committee made a recommendation to consider changing the city’s position. Ironton council has always held the policy of a downtown-to-downtown bridge placement, linking both the Ohio and Kentucky communities.

Russell City Council has held an opposing view. The Kentucky community wants the bridge to touchdown on U.S. 23 on the Bluegrass side.

The two cities have been at an impasse and the Ohio Department of Transportation has stated at public meetings held in Ironton that the two cities need to reach some sort of compromise.

Much to the chagrin of councilman Jesse Roberts, he proposed at Monday’s meeting of the public utilities committee to present a proposal to the entire city council, asking the board to review its support of the downtown-to-downtown location.

With the potential of council changing its position on the bridge location, businesses have began lobbying their position on the touchdown sites.

In a letter from Pat Clonch and the Lawrence Economic Development Corp. (LEDC) to council chair Jim Tordiff, Clonch said the LEDC voted on May 15 to support the D-2 bridge placement. In the letter, Clonch stated the LEDC feels this location will "effectively serve the downtown community and the industrial community of the City of Ironton."

The LEDC has also gathered support from some industries. Clonch sent council member Richard Price two additional letters supporting the D-2 placement.

Liebert, the newest industry on the block, voiced its opinion on the bridge placement through a letter.

Liebert’s plant manager, Robert Walters, has voiced his company’s opinion stating the D-2 alternative will support the "future growth" of the city.

Robert J. Maher, Chief Executive Officer of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, sent a letter stating the hospital supports the D-2 site because of the more direct access that the bridge would give to the hospital from Ironton.

"Given that the River Valley Hospital closed recently, OLBH is the closest facility for complete emergency care," said Maher. "This route would provide the fastest access for all of the residents of the Ironton area."

Maher continued by saying, "As you know, we have been working closely with the leadership of the River Valley board, Pat Clonch, Bob Payne, Chuck Cooper and others to work out ways to support the medical needs of the Ironton area." The letter continues by saying, "We (OLBH) look forward to working with you regarding the medical needs of your community and we strongly support ‘alternative D-2’ for the placement of the bridge."

On the flip-side, some Ironton businesses want the bridge to fall within the B/C Corridor.

Business owner Bob Clyse attended the meeting and show his support for the B/C Corridor landing as long as the landing did not take a serious toll on many businesses. Clyse told the committee it was "time to move forward" with the bridge project.

It is speculated Ironton’s council will discuss the matter at Thursday’s meeting.