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Cold could shut down Ironton-Russell Bridge

Jan. 05, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

IRONTON -- Cold temperatures could cause the Ohio Department of Transportation to close the 92-year-old Ironton-Russell Bridge.

Each winter the Ohio Department of Transportation's Lawrence County Highway Maintenance Facility keeps an eye on the cold weather. The department's bridge department also monitors the surface and air temperature at the two-lane bridge as a safety measure.

In the event of projected sub-zero temperatures, Ohio Department of Transportation officials from both Lawrence County and the district headquarters in Chillicothe will monitor temperatures at the bridge for possible stress, according to the release.

The bridge is safe for travel, but the span's steel truss structure is not wholly guarded against temperatures sustained below zero degrees. The precaution is necessary because of the bridge's age, construction, current conditions and certain fatigue-prone details in which the cold weather may have an adverse effect on the structural steel.

"Over the years, we have been working with the University of Cincinnati Infrastructure Institute to test and collect data from the bridge to monitor its structural integrity," said Vaughn Wilson, the department's District 9 deputy director.

"As a result of these tests, it has been determined that the steel may become brittle and the bridge may be susceptible to further cracking should the bridge be subject to sub-zero temperatures," Wilson said in a prepared release.

Temperatures could reach minus 5 Sunday night and Monday morning, according to Josh Fitzpatrick, WSAZ meteorologist.

With the threat of extreme cold temperatures, the department could close the bridge. Department officials will monitor the temperatures and should they approach the zero degree mark and continue, a determination will be made whether to close the bridge.

If the bridge is closed, motorists will be detoured to the twin bridges connecting Ashland and Coal Grove, Ohio.

Information about road and bridge closures is available on the web at www.Ohgo.com.

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