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Case against truck driver continued

The case against a former truck driver accused of damaging the Ben Williamson Bridge has been continued for another week.

Dennis J. Smith, 59, of South Point, appeared for a pretrial hearing Thursday in Ironton Municipal Court but the matter was rescheduled for 9 a.m. on July 25.

Smith is charged with failure to control and leaving the scene of an accident, both misdemeanor charges. He pleaded not guilty to the charges July 1 in front of Judge O. Clark Collins.

Smith was cited in late June by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. According to the post, Smith was driving a 1987 Mack semi tractor-trailer loaded with scrap metal at the time of the crash. The truck continued into Kentucky without stopping or reporting that a crash had occured according to the OSHP. The truck is owned by L.R. Daniels Transportation in Ashland, Ky.

On May 17, a vehicle hit one of the vertical I-beams near the Ohio side of the bridge that normally carries traffic into Kentucky. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet continued to allow traffic to cross, at a restricted weight limit.

The bridge was closed within a few days as a safety precaution and traffic into Kentucky was routed over the Simeon Willis Bridge, which carries traffic in to Ohio.

The KYTC recently awarded the bridge repair work to Evers Welding Co. of Cincinnati, who offered a bid of $52,400 for the job of replacing the damaged beam.

The transportation cabinet is expecting the work to be complete by July 31.

“The contractor is on the job, manufacturing the replacement steel beam, mobilizing equipment and working to get the necessary approvals from Norfolk Southern to work above the railroad tracks,” said Allen Blair, public information officer for the KYTC, in an email Thursday. “We expect physical work to start on the bridge soon. The contract specifies a July 31 completion date. However, that does depend on the steel manufacturing schedule, railroad approval, weather, etc. We’ll know more specifics the closer we get to that date.”