IRONTON — The Daily Times, along with other media outlets in the Tri-state area, was invited to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 9, ‘walk across’ event tour of the new Ironton-Russell Bridge Thursday. The bridge is steadily reaching completion.
ODOT District 9 serves Adams, Brown, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross and Scioto counties in south-central Ohio. Kathleen Fuller, public information officer of ODOT District 9, said the Ironton-Russell Bridge is a major milestone that has been reached. According to Fuller, who stated that the final portion of the superstructure was to connect the Ohio and Kentucky sections of the bridge’s main span. This progress is deemed a monumental juncture by ODOT and is worthy of celebration.
Fuller also told The Daily Times that the original contract award for the completion of the Ironton-Russell Bridge project is approximately $81.3 million.
“This basically is a walk across event for the media and elected officials on both sides as well as our counterparts from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to come out and see how much has been accomplished on the project,” Fuller said. “We are marking it with the final closure for the last segment of the bridge. The contract awarded was for $81.3 to $84 million. We were working from both sides, we started working basically from the Kentucky side, where you build out so far, and then you come from the Ohio side and then build out and connect in the middle. So we just recently connected more or less in the middle of this bridge, and took the final segment for the main span.”
Katrina Keith, Mayor of Ironton, said 80 percent of Ironton residents can view the bridge construction project from their homes.
“This is absolutely amazing. We have been anticipating this day for some time,” Keith said. “Our residence have had the opportunity to watch the progress day by day because the bridge can be seen by probably 80 percent of our residence from their homes. So, everyone has watched this day in and day out. The engineers, the construction workers have done an excellent job on their work on this bridge. So it is a good day for Ironton.”
Bill Hopkins, mayor of Russell, Kentucky, said it has been a long-time coming, but they are looking forward to the new bridge opening.
“This is a great day for the Ohio people and the Kentucky people, and I am here to represent the Kentucky people,” Hopkins said. “We’ve looked forward to this for four or five years now, doing construction, and planning, and planning probably even longer than that. Hopefully, before the fiscal year is over, which is December, we could see a new bridge open here without any major problems, so we are looking forward to that as well.”
Fuller said they have made an incredible amount of progress on the bridge construction even over the course of the last two weeks.
“Before, just a couple of weeks ago you could not walk from one side to the other,” Fuller said. “You would walk out so far, and then you would be stopped by everything, it was completely closed off. So, it was important to show everybody what we have accomplished.”
Though the bridge project is behind schedule, it is back on schedule, and sure be completed by the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday, according to Fuller.
“Everybody knows that we are behind schedule, we were supposed to have this bridge open about a year ago, but we are back on track, and everything has been going well,” Fuller said. “This is a major undertaking to build a bridge like this over the Ohio River. It is not an easy task. We anticipate having it open to traffic near Thanksgiving. We don’t have an exact date at this point, but we will certainly let everybody know and will have a ribbon cutting ceremony for that, providing that the weather is conducive we will do something here at the new bridge, but we will just see how everything plays out.”
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.