Breaking Ground

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ceremony for new Ironton-Russell Bridge set for Thursday


Although preliminary site operations began about two months ago, a ceremonial groundbreaking for Ironton and Russell, Ky.’s new bridge is set for Thursday.

“After four years as the mayor working on this, to see it actually a reality is very exciting,” said Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship.

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On Thursday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear will lead a delegation of county and state officials from both sides of the river for the groundbreaking, scheduled for 11 a.m. at Depot Square in downtown Ironton.

“We’re hoping to have a really good turnout,” said Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). “We want to pay tribute to everyone that has worked on the project over the years.”

ODOT officially awarded a $81.2 million dollar contract to Brayman Construction, of Saxonburg, Penn., in January.

The bridge project, which had been delayed several times over the past decade, will replace the existing span, which was constructed in 1922.

The new Ironton-Russell Bridge will be located between Second and Jefferson streets in downtown Ironton and near the U.S. 23 viaduct south of Russell, Ky.

The project also includes demolition of the existing bridge upon completion of the new structure.

“I think it’s going to cause some traffic (issues) and maybe detours at some point,” Blankenship said. “But we’ll keep residents up-to-date as best we can. In the event this does happen, we’ll just have to adjust and adapt to it. But at the end of the day, we’ll have a brand new bridge.”

There is a four-year window for total completion, with an interim completion in the fall of 2015.

Blankenship said the project will benefit Ironton’s citizens who work in Kentucky, as well as the city’s economic development and could “open up potential development areas for new business.”

“I’m glad ODOT fulfilled their obligation to the City of Ironton and came around and are building a bridge,” Blankenship said.

Fuller said the groundbreaking will go on as planned, rain or shine, barring extreme weather.

“It’s going to be a really nice ceremony,” she said. “We really just hope for pretty weather. We want lots of folks to turn out.”