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Bridge delays latest in ODOT letdowns

Lawrence County doesn’t need to be on the cutting edge of development projects for large infrastructure improvements like bridges.

We just need a new bridge.

Continuing a trend of years of disappointment, broken promises and delays, the Ohio Department of Transportation announced Monday that the replacement of the Ironton-Russell Bridge has once again been delayed.

The state agency is saying this project will now be delayed for possibly up to a year as part of an experiment taking advantage of new legislation that allows for public-private partnerships on projects like this.

Although we appreciate ODOT’s contention that this could pave the way for better, more affordable projects, we simply don’t want to be the guinea pig.

For a project that has already been delayed at least two times over a period of several years, six weeks from awarding bids is not the time for experimentation.

The aging structure that spans from Ironton to Russell, Ky., has seen better days and needs to be replaced now.

Far too many questions surround this public-private partnership concept. What exactly does this mean? What is the timeline? What level of accountability will the private party be held to? How will they expect to see a return on the investment? Will this pave the way for tolls and who will control those rates?

We are all for changing the status quo and doing things smarter and better than they have ever been done. But we also need to have a strong plan that spans from our present to our future, just as this bridge that means so much to our communities has for decades.