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Efforts to save I-R Bridge continue

Ironton resident Elle Dew is taking more steps in trying to preserve the Ironton-Russell Bridge as a pedestrian bridge. The Ohio Department of Transportation has plans to tear it down as part of the contract with the company building the new bridge.

Dew talked in front of Ironton City Council a few weeks ago about her plan and petition. She said she left feeling good about the progress made on saving the bridge.

“The meeting went great and everyone was very receptive,” Dew said. “They gave me some things that I can do to move this forward.”

Mayor Rich Blankenship and several council members have said the idea to preserve the bridge is a good one, although the city of Ironton can’t take financial responsibility of keeping it.

Dew is now in the process of obtaining an attorney to set up a 501c3 non-profit for grants and funds to start coming in for preservation of the bridge, as well as getting Russell and the state of Kentucky in on it.

“Kentucky just saved a railroad bridge in Louisville,” Dew said. “It’s completely restored and does wonders for the community. I don’t see any reason why something like that can’t be done here.”

In taking over the bridge in Louisville, the Commonwealth of Kentucky pays for the liability as well as all of its inspections.

Dew said she wants to form a committee as well as have a special ceremony to name the bridge something other than the Ironton-Russell Bridge. She also has plans to get in touch with the mayor of Louisville to talk about the bridge that was preserved there.

“One of the questions I have is that if the bridge is in such bad shape, why not shut it down now?” Dew said. “If it’s that bad, why keep it up for another year or more until they finish the new bridge?”

Going to the main ODOT office in Columbus is something Dew still plans on doing when she feels she has everything ready to go.

“This is probably going to be a year-long process, but within the next month I hope to have a 501c3 set up and a committee,” Dew said. “I’d also like to have a renaming ceremony around Christmas.”

Dew said she wants to preserve the bridge because it’s part of the city’s rich history and a lot of history.

“One thing people keep saying to me is haven’t we destroyed enough of our history?” Dew said. “We need to preserve our history with something that’s still standing. Not just pictures.”

Along with the preserved railroad bridge in Louisville, Dew cited examples of the preserved pedestrian bridge in Cincinnati and a refurbished bridge in Nashville, Tennessee, as ones the old Ironton-Russell Bridge can follow.

Dew said her petition to save the bridge now has close to 1,000 signatures online as well as about 300 physical signatures on outside copies.

“I’m excited for what’s to come,” Dew said. “Everywhere I go in Ironton someone says something about it, so I’m on the right track.”

The new bridge is expected to be completed late next year or early 2017.