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City Council hears about bridge project

It only took about five minutes for Ironton city council to deal with the two ordinances on the agenda on Thursday night.

The rest of the two-hour meeting was taken up with a presentation and questions about the Ironton-Russell Bridge project has been delayed for seven years.

Harry Fry, Ohio Department of Transportation District 9 deputy director and ODOT project manager Gary Cochenour fielded questions from council members and citizens about the project.

They said that they were salvaging as much work as they could to hurry along the construction of the new bridge but since the state rejected the bids, it put the Ironton-Russell Bridge at the bottom of the project list.

The state had estimated the bridge project would come in at around $80 million for the three-lane, single-tower cable suspension bridge. Instead, bids were over $110 million and the state decided to redesign the bridge and it is now scheduled to begin in the 2013 fiscal year.

The redesign is expected to take a year.

ODOT has contracted with the firm of Richland Engineering to do the design plans for rehabilitation of the existing Ironton-Russell Bridge that was built in 1922. The $1 million rehabilitation project will include repairs of the grid deck and strain guage monitoring system, as well as the retrofit of one pin connection and improvement of skid resistance on the bridge. It will not pave over the steel grid which caused concerns to at least one council member who said it was rather slick in the winter.

Cochenour said that the $1 million was going to extend the working life of the bridge. He added the bridge was perfectly safe and added the work would add another five to eight years to the life of the bridge.

Cochenour said there would be intermittent closing of the bridge during the rehabilitation but no longer than a week at a time.

When asked why Kentucky doesn’t kick in some money for the project since Russell and Ashland both benefit economically from the bridge, Fry said that he was meeting members of the Kentucky legislature soon to discuss it.

Council also learned that representatives from the Ohio Main Street Program, which helps to revitalize historic downtown areas, would be in Ironton on Sept. 6 and 7. The first day they will check out the city and on the second day they will meet with officials to discuss options.

In the two items on the agenda, the ordinance to make the intersection of South Ninth and Pleasant streets a four-way stop got a second reading. The ordinance to allow the mayor to advertise and accept bids for sewer cleaning and inspection was tabled after it was pointed out Ironton Mayor John Elam already had that authority.

Ironton city council meets on the second and fourth Thursday of the month.