Saving bridge impractical

Published 10:44 am Thursday, October 1, 2015

Someone once said that to preserve is to create. And certainly preserving a community’s history creates for future generations a greater sense of identity for them, as they know more about the people who came before them.

Too often society is too quick to wipe out the physical structures that tell a community’s story. Certainly that was the case with the razing of Memorial Hall, a symbol of the Grand Army of the Republic and its dedication on the Civil War battlefields to end the horror of slavery.

On the surface that same argument could be made for an Ironton woman’s campaign to turn the Ironton-Russell Bridge into a pedestrian bridge. Already her petition has attracted just under 1,000 signatures.

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Her problem is the 93-year-old structure is the only one of that design left in the United States and for that reason it should be saved.

A noble cause, but unfortunately not practical.

Right now the Ohio Department of Transportation owns the bridge, which is under contract to be torn down in 2017. If the bridge is to stand, someone, besides ODOT, will have to take ownership. That means paying for maintenance, annual safety inspections and insurance to cover any liability that might occur.

Most city officials understand that the idea is good in theory, but as Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said it is not financially feasible.

City hall’s response is the right one, understanding the value of preservation, but weighing the practical side of the issue.