I-R Bridge monitored during frigid temps

Published 12:01 am Sunday, January 5, 2014

Staff Report


It is that time of year when the Ohio Department of Transportation must remind motorists and residents in the Lawrence County area of the potential for closure of the Ironton-Russell Bridge.

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Each winter, the staff of the ODOT Lawrence County Highway Maintenance Facility keep a watchful eye on the weather in order to put crews on the state highway system and battle inclement conditions as it becomes needed.

Likewise, they and staff from ODOT District 9’s Bridge Department also monitor the surface and air temperatures at the Ironton-Russell Bridge in order to secure motorists’ safety there.

In the event of projected sub-zero temperatures, ODOT officials from both Lawrence County and the district headquarters in Chillicothe will monitor temperatures at the bridge for possible stress. While the Ironton-Russell Bridge is safe for travel, the bridge’s steel truss structure is not wholly guarded against temperatures sustained below zero degrees.

This, in part, is due to its age, construction, current condition and certain fatigue-prone details in which cold weather may have an adverse effect on the bridge’s steel members.

“Over the years, we have been working with the University of Cincinnati Infrastructure Institute to test and collect data from the bridge to monitor its structural integrity,” said ODOT District 9 Deputy Director Vaughn Wilson. “As a result of these tests, it has been determined that the steel may become brittle, and the bridge may be susceptible to further cracking should the bridge be subject to sub-zero temperatures.”

As the threat of extreme cold temperatures is possible next week, ODOT is prepared to take action. Throughout the next several days, as well as during the entire winter season, ODOT officials will be monitoring the weather for extreme cold and should the temperature approach the zero degree mark and continue falling, they will determine if the bridge should be closed to traffic.

In the event that the bridge is closed, motorists will be detoured via U.S. Route 52 and the Ashland, Kentucky, twin bridges at Coal Grove.

For information on additional lane and road closures caused by construction, accidents, flooding or other related traffic events throughout the state, visit ODOT on the web at www.Ohgo.com.