New Restriction Placed On Ironton-Russell Bridge;
Preservation Project To Begin In July

Chillicothe - Looking for a means to limit heavy truck traffic and give local police a way to readily enforce any restriction placed on the Ironton-Russell Bridge, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is enacting a width restriction on the bridge, and this announcement was made during a news conference held today, May 23.

“Since 1991, the weight limit on the bridge has been reduced to 65 percent of the legal carrying load; however, there are still many violators of the weight restriction,” said ODOT District 9 Deputy Director James Brushart. “Moreover, enforcement of this restriction has been a challenging task for local police, so it became necessary for the department to undertake new measures to limit the amount of heavier truck traffic that continues to use the existing bridge.”

After consulting with officials from the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the city of Ironton, ODOT’s bridge department decided to post a width restriction on the bridge that will prohibit all commercial vehicles over seven feet, six inches from traveling across the structure. Non-commercial vehicles, non-profit buses and emergency vehicles will be exempt from this restriction. The width restriction, which goes into effect today, will enable law enforcement to renew and strengthen their efforts to patrol and enforce the limitations.

“By restricting oversized, overweight commercial vehicles from using this bridge, we will be able to preserve its integrity until we complete construction of a new bridge,” added Brushart. “As such, we appreciate the cooperation of the city of Ironton, its police department and the state highway patrol as we impose this new restriction.”

In addition to these efforts, the department will start a $1.1 million preservation project on the bridge this summer. This project will include repairs to the bridge deck, grid panels and specific fatigue areas.

Currently, crews from Armstrong Steel Erectors are scheduled to begin work on the bridge following the July 4th holiday. Although there will be lane restrictions throughout most construction, the bridge will be subject to full, daytime-only closure for a period of up to 60 days. It is anticipated that the daytime closures will go into effect in mid- or late-July.

Meanwhile, plans to build a new bridge connecting southern Ohio and northern Kentucky are on schedule, aided by the approval of the U.S. Coast Guard on design plans which allow the state to build a more efficient and cost-effective structure.

In designing the new bridge, ODOT has received approval from the U.S. Coast Guard for the placement of a second tower in the Ohio River, allowing it to be built further into the navigational channel and producing a more economical and symmetrical design. The original bridge design called for a single, much taller tower – a factor that inflated the cost of the original design significantly.

In addition to this step forward, the department’s Major Bridge Funding program will have the necessary resources allocated to initiate sale of a contract a year earlier than previously anticipated.

“With a commitment from Governor Strickland and Director Beasley to advance the project as much as possible, we are making significant strides to do so, and we appreciate the support of both the Ironton and Russell communities while we undertake both the preservation and replacement projects,” said Brushart.

Currently, the department plans to have the final design for the replacement project completed by late summer of 2009, and the project is scheduled to sell in early 2012.