By MARK MAYNARD
The Ironton-Russell Bridge has been cleared for traffic and reopened on Monday, according to Ohio Department of Transportation officials.
The bridge was inspected and given the all clear. It was closed over the weekend after being struck by a barge late Saturday night.
ODOT bridge inspectors and engineers conducted the inspections Monday and found no significant damage to the bridge, its bearings or piers. As such, ODOT maintenance crews removed the barricades and signs restricting traffic, and reopened the span around noon.
The aging span, which is scheduled to be replaced, connects Russell with Ironton.
When a new bridge over the Ohio River between Russell and Ironton opens, the existing span will be demolished, according to ODOT plans. The new bridge will connect near the viaduct on U.S. 23. It will come at a cost of $81.2 million.
The existing bridge was built in 1922 to last 50 years or so and is still in service 90 years later. The new bridge has a 100-year life expectancy due in part to construction materials — the two towers that support the cable-stay span will be made of concrete, inherently longer-lasting than steel.
The new span has a three-year building schedule that started this spring with clearing banks on the Kentucky and Ohio sides of the river and building of caissons in which the concrete piers will be poured.
This coming year should see the towers growing higher and the year after that most of the cables will be in place between the towers and the deck.
Completion is expected by the end of 2015, and in 2016 the company will demolish the old bridge.
The new bridge will have 8.2 million pounds of steel and nearly 24,395 cubic yards of concrete.
ODOT officially awarded a contract to Brayman Construction, of Saxonburg, Penn., in January. Construction began in early March.
For information on additional lane and road closures caused by construction, accidents, flooding or other related traffic events throughout the state, visit Buckeye Traffic on ODOT's web site at www.buckeyetraffic.org
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2648.