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Cemetery bridge to be replaced

Come late fall, Ironton residents should be able to access Woodland Cemetery without having to take the scenic route through Coal Grove.

This week, Ohio Department of Transportation District 9 awarded the bid to replace the bridge to Armstrong Steel Erectors Inc. of Newark. The company’s bid of $1,186,710.40 was the lowest of five bids submitted for the project and slightly higher than the state’s $1.1-million estimate.

A preconstruction meeting was held in Chillicothe Monday and, according to ODOT District 9 deputy director John F. Hagen, crews will be on site June 3. The scheduled completion date for the project is Nov. 15.

&uot;The target date for completion is Nov. 15, but it could possibly be done sooner,&uot; said Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary. &uot;We certainly did not think it would take this long. I’ve learned that government moves at a snail’s pace -- there’s so much paperwork and studies.&uot;

Hagen said that although the project has not moved as quickly as the public would have preferred, he is pleased his office was able to award the bid promptly. Bids were opened in Chillicothe on May 15.

&uot;We are pleased that ODOT’s Office of Contracts was able to expedite the contract quickly so that our contractors can begin construction of the bridge,&uot; said Hagen. &uot;We are looking forward to starting the project next month, and we appreciate the public’s continued patience while construction is under way.&uot;

In April of 1999, safety concerns forced city officials to close the structure to vehicle traffic after the bridge failed an ODOT District 9 bridge safety inspection. This shut off all traffic flow to the main Ironton cemetery entrance. Not only was the bridge used to access the cemetery, but many people also used it as a short cut from Ironton to Coal Grove.

&uot;The big issue was the bridge had been ignored for many years,&uot; Cleary said. &uot;Once we determined it was the city’s liability, we assessed it. We felt it was in such a catastrophic condition that it should be closed immediately.&uot;

The bridge closure that has been in place for more than three years will remain in effect throughout construction. Those wishing to access the cemetery will continue to do so via the Coal Grove entrance.

&uot;Everybody got used to and loved the (Ironton) cemetery entrance,&uot; Cleary said. &uot;It’s been a real issue and we appreciate everyone’s patience using the (Coal Grove) entrance to the cemetery. It’s just not the same feeling.&uot;

Tribune staff writer Michael Caldwell contributed to this article. Shawn Doyle & Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune