ODOT progressing on bridge replacement

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 4, 2004

In a feat that would make David Copperfield proud, the Ohio Department of Transportation continues preparing to make the Ironton-Russell Bridge disappear.

Visible work will not begin any time soon, but ODOT is hard at work getting ready to replace the 82-year-old structure over the next five years.

ODOT's utility coordinator was in Ironton last week to work with the various utility companies to schedule and finalize the relocations that will be necessary.

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The state agency plans to construct a 2,500 foot, cable-stayed bridge similar in design to the 31st Street (East End) Bridge in Huntington, W.Va., with segmental retaining walls on both sides. At its highest point on the central tower, the bridge will rise approximately 500 feet above the river.

The projected location calls for the approach 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, Ky.

Preliminary designs for the new bridge were completed in January. Final designs are not expected to be completed until March 2005 but the property acquisition begun this year.

"Everything is on schedule right now," said Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for ODOT District 9. "We are waiting to get the final designs, they will have to be approved and then we can begin taking bids next year."

Eight residential properties and the Second Street car wash will have to be relocated or removed. Several additional businesses including CVS, Cochran Pools, Second Street Auto, Charlie's Tires and KFC may be partially affected by the loss of access or on-street parking.

ODOT's real estate division has begun advanced acquisition procedures for the parcels that will be totally purchased.

Preliminary work has begun on the partial acquisitions and should really begin to move forward later this summer, Fuller said.

"The project is pretty well mapped out in terms of real estate so we can work on design and land acquisition at the same time," Fuller said. "Whenever we can, we try to do that to expedite things."

Projected to cost approximately $69 million, $35 million has already been set aside. The remainder of funds will be provided through ODOT's major bridge funding program.

Construction bids could be awarded in October 2005. Physical construction could begin in April 2006 and be completed in October 2008. Removal of the old bridge is scheduled to begin in April 2009 and be completed that October.