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Start date for bridge repair still unknown

Jul. 23, 2013 @ 10:44 PM

ASHLAND — A start date on making repairs to the Ben Williamson Memorial Bridge hasn’t been announced as yet even though a contract calls for the work to be completed by July 31.
“They’re close to starting repair work on the bridge, but we don’t have a start date yet,” said Allen Blair, a spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “Once the bridge repairs start, it will take only a few days.”
Evers Welding Co. of Cincinnati was awarded a $52,400 contract last month to replace a damaged steel support beam. The two-lane bridge has been closed for about two months after someone hit the support beam and bent it, but didn’t stop and report the damage.
Dennis J. Smith, 59, of South Point, was arrested earlier this month on charges of leaving the scene of an accident and failure to control a vehicle. He is scheduled to appear Thursday, July 25, in Ironton Municipal Court.
The Ohio Highway Patrol charged Smith with operating a 1987 Mack tractor-trailer loaded with scrap metal on May 17 with damaging the bridge, according to a press release.
Once the bridge repair starts it will impact both eastbound traffic on U.S. 52 and train traffic on the N&W tracks beneath the bridge, Blair said.
The steel beam that will replace the damaged section of the bridge is being fabricated offsite, Blair said. “We’re working on the logistics now,” he said. “We’re working on a traffic control plan.”
With the Ben Williamson Memorial Bridge closed, the three-lane Simeon Willis Bridge has been converted to handle both north and southbound traffic. The Ben Williamson Bridge usually carries about 20,000 cars per day southbound from Coal Grove to Ashland.

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