The Ironton-Russell Bridge was closed to all traffic Saturday night after a barge allegedly hit one of its concrete piers, according to Greenup dispatchers.
Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation, confirmed the Ohio River span was struck and would be closed until thoroughly inspected in daylight hours, probably sometime today.
“We don’t know the extent other than a barge struck it,” Fuller said.
ODOT officials are trying to get inspectors to the bridge, Fuller said. That’s when it would be determined when or if the bridge would re-open.
Traffic on both sides of the river will be detoured to the bridges in Ashland.
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.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2648.