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Bond set for man charged with hitting bridge

Jul. 02, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

IRONTON -- Bond was set at $10,000 Monday for a South Point man charged with damaging the Ben Williamson Memorial Bridge at 12th Street earlier this year and leaving the scene of an accident that forced the closure of the two-lane bridge bring traffic southbound from Coal Grove to Ashland.

Dennis J. Smith, 59, of South Point, has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident and failure to control a vehicle, according to Bob Anderson, an assistant Lawrence County prosecutor.

A preliminary hearing in the case was set for July 18. Paul Knipp, an Ironton lawyer, was appointed to represent Smith, according to court personnel.

The bridge has been closed for more than a month for safety reasons.

The Ohio Highway Patrol charged Smith with operating a 1987 Mack semi-tractor and trailer loaded with scrap metal on May 17, damaging a support beam on the bridge, according to a press release. The truck continued into Kentucky without stopping or reporting the crash, according to the release.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet awarded a $52,400 contract last month to Evers Welding Co. of Cincinnati. The project is set to be completed by the end of the month, barring any unforeseen circumstances, said Allen Blair, a spokesman for the transportation cabinet.

The company is having a section of steel manufactured to replace the damaged beam, Blair said Monday.

The bridge carries about 20,000 vehicles per day. The three-lane Simeon Willis Bridge was converted to handle one lane of southbound traffic and continue having two lanes of traffic northbound from Ashland to Ohio.

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