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ODOT, council to discuss Ironton-Russell Bridge

The Ohio Department of Transportation will meet with Ironton City Council on Sept. 13 to discuss the condition of the Ironton-Russell Bridge.

Mayor John Elam said representatives from ODOT were invited because of request from the council. Members wanted to know more about the bridge’s condition in light of the collapse of the interstate bridge in Minnesota on Aug. 1.

“No one wants to see damage to life or property like what happened in Minnesota or the Silver Bridge (in West Virginia),” Elam said. “This would give people an opportunity to ask questions, share their concerns and get answers.”

Elam said the meeting should address questions some people have been asking.

“There have been questions asked and comments made on the editorial page of The Ironton Tribune, so I thought it would prudent for everyone to have a complete understanding,” he said. “This way they can hear it directly from ODOT rather than what is hearsay.”

Elam said he expects that ODOT will explain what is being done in the short- and long-term to repair the bridge as well as any safety issues.

Council meetings are open to the public and the mayor is asking anyone with questions to submit them to the Mayor’s Office, either by dropping off questions or submitting them on the comments section of the city’s Web site at www.ironton-ohio.com. The questions will be forwarded to ODOT.

“Some of this stuff, they may need to gather information and this gives them a chance to prepare,” Elam said.

Representatives from ODOT have been at council meetings before, most recently in August 2006 when Harry Fry, the then-deputy director of ODOT District 9 and ODOT project manager Gary Cochenour took questions from council members and citizens about why a new bridge wasn’t being built.

The state rejected the bids because the lowest one came in at $110 million, which was $30 million over the budgeted amount. After the rejection, the Ironton-Russell Bridge was knocked down the state’s project list. The state decided to redesign the bridge and it is now scheduled to begin in the 2013 fiscal year.

ODOT has contracted with the firm of Richland Engineering to do the design plans for rehabilitation of the existing Ironton-Russell Bridge, which includes repairs of the grid deck and strain gauge monitoring system, as well as the retrofit of one pin connection and improvement of skid resistance on the bridge.

Cochenour said last August that the $1 million would 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.