Ironton-Russell Bridge briefly closed

Published 7:39 pm Monday, October 29, 2012

A file photo of the Ironton-Russell Bridge.

The Ironton-Russell Bridge was closed at approximately 7 p.m. Monday for about an hour after structural issues were reported on the Ohio side of the more than 90-year-old span. However, ODOT officials say the structure is safe and it has been reopened to traffic.

The Ironton Police and Fire departments blocked the Ohio side at approximately 7 p.m. and Russell, Ky., Police did the same after the metal-gridded decking was reported to have dropped between four and six inches

It was initially reported by a motorist or pedestrian. Sources reported the Russell Police inspected and could not confirm the structural issue on the bridge that was built in 1922.

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Several Ohio Department of Transportation employees from the local garage who are familiar with the condition of the bridge, as well as contractors working on construction of the new bridge, inspected it at approximately 8 p.m. and determined it was safe to reopen the bridge.

The ODOT officials said the issue appeared to be tied to expansion joints near an abutment on the Ohio side, potentially tied to the rapid change in temperature, and has happened in the past, said Kathleen Fuller, Public Information Officer for ODOT’s District 9.

The bridge is monitored by a variety of stress sensors 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week. None of those reflected any readings that would indicate problems, Fuller said.

A full inspection is slated for Tuesday, but the high winds and storms tied to Hurricane Sandy could slow the process that may require lane restrictions or a short-term closure, Fuller said.

ODOT is in the process of building a new span that will begin near Second and Jefferson streets in Ironton and connect near Russell, Ky., at the viaduct on U.S. 23. The bridge is slated to cost $81.2 million and should be completed by the fall of 2015.

By the time the bridge is complete, it will be constructed of more than 8.2 million pounds of steel and nearly 24,395 cubic yards of concrete.

It has been a long process to replace the span that has been closed periodically in inclement weather.

In 1999, a design process began to replace the bridge. When ODOT was ready to award a contract, bids came in more than $20 million over estimates. Plans for the new bridge were tabled, redesigns moved slowly and the project hit other snags tied to funding and the economy.

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

Construction began in early March.