Safe landing: Ironton floodgate improvement closer to reality

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 29, 2004

Much like in a marathon footrace, some projects are more important on how they finish than how they start.

That is how Ironton engineer Phil Biggs views the Center Street Landing floodgate improvement project. Getting work completed will surely go much faster than getting started on the project that has been in the works for nearly five years and long before he came to the city, Biggs said.

"You could probably write a novel about this project," Biggs said. "Now that (The Righter Company of Columbus) have gotten started they are doing extremely well once they finally got rolling."

Email newsletter signup

The riverfront area will be closed until at least February when the entrance is graveled and reopened. It will then be blacktopped in March or April, he said.

Originally scheduled to begin more than two years ago, the project has been delayed numerous times for a variety of reasons including lack of funding, cost escalations and a lack of the necessary permits, just to name a few, Biggs said.

But all the delays have done little to curb the need for the project that will widen the single-lane entrance to allow for a direct, two-lane entrance without the sharp turn that makes for a dangerous crossing.

New signs and curbs will be added near the entrance. To make room for the changes, part of the floodwall will be removed and the gate structure will be replaced with aluminum and steel.

"This crossing is listed on Ohio's Web site as one of the most hazardous crossings in Ohio. So the No. 1 benefit will be safety," Biggs said. "No. 2 will be access to the dock - by the general public and or residents and also for any tourist type traffic wanting to utilize the riverfront."

"We feel like this will be a significant improvement for the city from an economic development standpoint."

Thinking long-term, this improvement will work towards development of a public boat dock facility that could promote more riverfront development, he said.

As far as Rich Patrick, vice president of the Ironton Business Association, is concerned, any development could be positive for the downtown business community.

"It could be like Huntington's riverfront. They have a lot of things going on at the river. They have an orchestra, a park. They have the fireworks," Patrick said. "If the riverfront was opened up it could open up a lot more things that we could do down there."

Including the design and geotechnical work that has already been completed, the entire project will cost approximately $420,000

The Huntington-Ironton Empowerment Zone has allocated $181,000, ODNR's Waterway Safety Fund has appropriated $168,000 and the Ohio Rail Commission committed $75,000.

Biggs had nothing but positive things to say about the contractors.

"In my opinion from the short time I have worked with them, they have been an excellent company to work with," he said. "They are very knowledgeable and very coordinated."