ODOT to host forum about Ironton-Russell Bridge replacement

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Thanks to the Ohio Department of Transportation, no crystal ball will be needed to see the future of travel from Ironton to Russell, Ky.

The community will get its first glimpse of what the new Ironton-Russell Bridge may look like when the conceptual designs for the cable-supported structure are unveiled Wednesday.

ODOT representatives and the architectural firm Baker and Associates, of Dublin, will host an informational meeting from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday in the Riffe Center's Mains Rotunda at Ohio University Southern.

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The projected location calls for the new span to begin near the intersection of Second and Jefferson streets in Ironton and connect to the intersection of Kentucky Route 244

and U.S. Route 23 in Russell.

The project will construct a cable-stayed bridge similar in design to the 31st Street (East End) Bridge in Huntington, W.Va. This design will include numerous cables that extend from a tower structure in the middle down to the bridge deck.

Construction could begin in 2005 and be completed in 2008.

"In order to have a viable structure, we have to build a new bridge. If we don't, eventually, there will not be a bridge," said Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for ODOT District 9. "It is simply going to be a bigger, better structure to serve Ironton, Russell and the surrounding areas."

With an expected cost of approximately $68 million, $35 million has already been set aside. The rest will be available through ODOT's bridge funding program

"I would say without a doubt that it will be funded," Fuller said. "The central office committed to the project a long time ago."

Built in 1922, the existing bridge that requires expensive maintenance projects nearly each year will remain open throughout the construction process, Fuller said.

"Basically, after so long, a structure just needs to be replaced or it just becomes too expensive to maintain," she said. "The bridge kind of met its life expectancy."

Baker and Associates will continue the design work and environmental and right-of-way assessments throughout the next year.

The real estate acquisition should begin by 2004 and take approximately 18 months, Fuller said.

Eight residential properties and one business will have to be relocated or removed. Five additional businesses, including CVS, Cochran Pools, Second Street Auto and KFC, may be partially affected through the loss of on-street parking or access.

Once winter arrives, ODOT will continue to monitor the existing structure with the potential for closure if the weather is forecasted to drop below zero.

If closed, motorists will be detoured via the Ashland, Ky., bridge until the temperature rises to 5 degrees or warmer.