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Ironton-Russell Bridge reopened

Bridge
Dec. 31, 2012 @ 11:15 PM

IRONTON -- After being closed for more than a day, the 90-year-old Ironton-Russell Bridge reopened to traffic Monday afternoon, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The bridge was closed about 10:30 p.m. Saturday when a barge scraped a bridge pier. State crews inspected the two-lane span that carries some 11,000 vehicles per day on Monday morning, said Kathleen Fuller, a spokesperson for the department's District 9 office.

"No repairs are necessary," Fuller said. "They checked the bearings and supports. It was more of a scrape than anything else."

Since it happened over the weekend, the impact of the closing was less than if it had happened on a weekday.

"Anytime that bridge is closed, it has a negative impact on local businesses," said Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship. "We want ODOT to keep up maintenance on the old bridge until the new one is open in 2015. I'm sure they took the necessary precautions for the safety of travelers."

Joe Unger, owner of Unger Shoes in downtown Ironton, said anytime the bridge is closed, it affects his store's business. The shoe store, which has customers from across the Tri-State, was closed Sunday and very busy Monday.

"I had a lot of customers who just went over the Ashland bridge," said Tim Gearhart, owner of Tim's News and Novelties in downtown Ironton. "I went to cross the bridge on Sunday, saw it was closed and went over the Ashland bridge. It just took a little longer."

"It adds extra driving time when the bridge is closed," said Don Moore, director of the electronic media program at Ohio University-Southern. Moore lives in Argillite, Ky., and his normal 30-minute commute extends to 40 to 45 minutes when the bridge is closed, he said.

The branch of Ohio University currently is closed for the holidays.

The Tri-State Transit Authority ran late on its routes Sunday due to the closure, said Paul Davis, executive director of the bus system. "We won't have any runs on the holiday and will be back on a regular schedule Wednesday."

Customers were understanding of the delays, Davis said.

Police in Ironton and Russell closed the bridge after the accident, which involved a barge owned by Superior Marine, according to a report by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The accident had no impact on the new, $81 million bridge over the Ohio River now under construction. Officials plan to tear down the existing bridge in 2016 and hope to open the new span in 2015.

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