Bridge project remains on schedule

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Motorists won't know who will be building the new Ironton-Russell Bridge for an additional six weeks but state highway officials are emphatic that the overall project is flying along on pace.

The Ohio Department of Transportation was originally scheduled to open bids on the $69 million project Nov. 26 but that date has been pushed back to Jan. 13 for a variety of reasons that will basically allow the agency to address any issues before going to bid, said Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for ODOT District 9.

&#8220It is such a detailed project, an elaborate project when you build a cable-stayed bridge or other big project like this,” Fuller said. &#8220This gives (the contractors) more time to research the project and study up. It doesn't affect the actual construction because we wouldn't begin construction until spring anyway.”

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The contracts would then be awarded within approximately four weeks from opening the bids, Fuller said.

The new span will connect the intersection of Second and Jefferson streets in Ironton to the intersection of Kentucky 244 and U.S. 23 in Russell. The 2,500-foot bridge will be suspended 500 feet above the river.

Construction is still set to begin in the spring and be completed by the end of 2008.

The bridge's final design has been approved. Another factor in the delay was that engineers recommended some minor structural changes.

&#8220The look of the bridge and the aesthetics will not change,” Fuller said. &#8220This matters to the contractors but the public is never going to notice.”

The bid delay may affect crews that will be removing trees in the area. Wildlife laws involving the Indiana Bat stipulate that the trees must be removed before April 15. The building removal can be done at any time.

ODOT has the green light to proceed with the project though some of the property acquisitions may still be in final negotiations, Fuller said.

Though traffic will be maintained on the old Ironton-Russell Bridge throughout the project, the old span will be removed in 2009.

&#8220Once we get the new bridge built, we will then prepare a schedule for removal of the old structure that will best provide for the safety of the public and the contractors,” Fuller said.