Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 15, 2012

Work begins on Ironton-Russell Bridge

RUSSELL — Work has started on the new bridge between Russell and Ironton.

Workers are clearing the way for approach roads to the bridge, and construction on the approaches themselves should get under way around the middle of April, according to Ohio Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kathleen Fuller.

Motorists on U.S. 23 going through Russell have noticed the tell-tale signs in the past few days: orange barrels closing off the right southbound lane of traffic just before the viaduct.

The workers have to get areas between the road and the river cleared by the beginning of April because otherwise vegetation would be considered habitat for Indiana bats, Fuller said.

Another study required before building commences is a mussel survey, to determine which species of the mollusks live in the river where the work will be going on.

The bridge will connect Russell at the top of the viaduct with downtown Ironton.

Preliminary work will start soon on the Ironton side, Fuller said.

Brayman Construction Corp. of Saxonburg, Pa. is the contractor for the project, which is expected to take three years to complete and cost $81.3 million.

The old bridge will remain open until the new one is finished in 2015. The following summer, the old bridge will be demolished. The cost of demolition is included in the construction contract.

Built in 1922, the old bridge is considered safe for automobile use. The transportation department several years ago determined it had exceeded its useful life span.

Strict weight and size limits keep heavy commercial vehicles off. Engineers perform regular inspections and monitor sensors mounted to the bridge.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

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