ODOT to monitor bridge

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 16, 2003

If the temperature drops below zero, traffic on the Ironton-Russell Bridge could be reduced to zero.

In the event of projected sub-zero temperatures, Ohio Department of Transportation officials from both Lawrence County and the District 9 headquarters in Chillicothe will be monitoring the outside air temperature and the surface temperature of the bridge for possible stress.

According to a release from ODOT, the Ironton-Russell bridge is safe for travel, but the bridge's steel truss structure is not wholly guarded against temperatures below zero because of its age, construction, current condition and certain fatigue-prone details.

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If the temperature would fall to -5 degrees, the bridge will be subject to a full closure, the release said. If the temperature rises above 5 degrees, inspectors will determine if the bridge has incurred any additional stress and will conduct a field inspection to determine if the changes are critical to the bridge's load-carrying capacity.

Kathleen Fuller, public information officer with ODOT District 9, said this is a procedure done for the last few years and is nothing new. Also, getting traffic off the bridge will relieve some of the stress.

Possible bridge closures concern Tom Allyn, owner of Allyn's Jewelers.

"A lot of our customers come across the bridge," he said. "It's extremely important."

When the bridge was closed last fall for a resurfacing project, Allyn noticed a decline in business.

"We have a lot of customers from Kentucky," he said. "We really feel the pinch when they close the bridge. It's a vital link."

Allyn referred to the cities of Ironton and Russell as "one community" in which many Ironton residents work in Kentucky, but many Kentucky residents work in Ironton as well.

"We realize the closure hurts," Fuller said, but she also stated that the bridge must be safe enough for the public to cross.