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Breaking News: I-R Bridge closings start next month

Staff report

Chillicothe – With preliminary operations getting under way and delivery of materials anticipated in the coming weeks, a $1.1 million preservation project to rehabilitate the Ironton-Russell Bridge is slated to begin early next month.

During a pre-construction meeting late last week, contractors for the Ohio Department of Transportation outlined their anticipated schedule for the project, as well as other items included in the construction, environmental and design plans. Currently, crews from Armstrong Steel Erectors are scheduled to start construction on Monday, August 4, with closure of the bridge to be either later that week or the start of following week, August 11.

Although the bridge will be open to evening and overnight travel, it will be subject to closure during daytime, business hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., for up to 60 calendar days. While keeping the bridge open to traffic at all other times, the contractors are prohibited from working anytime between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. In addition, the contractors anticipate working five days per week, Monday through Friday; however, the schedule may be extended to include Saturdays depending upon factors such as crew availability and mobilization of materials and equipment.

“We realize the significant impact this project and closure of the bridge will have on motorists, residents and businesses from both sides of the river,” said ODOT District 9 Deputy Director James Brushart. “However, the outlined maintenance of traffic plan is necessary to expedite the work in the most efficient and safest manner possible, and we are working with the contractors not only to advance this project effectively but to keep the noise and other impacts to a minimum.”

The rehabilitation project will include repairs to the bridge deck, grid panels and specific fatigue areas, as well as repairs to lighting and guardrail. Also, engineers from the University of Cincinnati Infrastructure Institute will take the opportunity while the bridge is closed to update the strain gage monitoring system that is affixed to the bridge. Installed in 1999, the gages collect bridge stress data, which is used to determine the fatigue condition of the bridge and its load carrying capabilities.

Construction is scheduled for completion by October 31, 2008, and during periods of closure, motorists will be detoured by way of U.S. Route 52 and the Ashland, Ky., bridge to U.S. Route 23.

Additionally, plans to build a new Ironton-Russell bridge connecting the southern Ohio and northern Kentucky communities continue on schedule. With approval of the U.S. Coast Guard for the placement of a second tower in the Ohio River, the department’s redesign plans call for the state to build a structure further into the navigational channel, producing a more economical and symmetrical design that fits within the project scope.

“With a commitment from Governor Strickland and Director Beasley to advance the project as much as possible, we are making significant strides to do so, and we appreciate the support of the Ironton and Russell communities as we undertake both the preservation and replacement projects,” said Deputy Director Brushart.

Currently, the department plans to have the final design for the replacement project completed by late summer of 2009, and the project is scheduled to sell in early 2012.