Governor Steve Beshear and Ohio Governor John Kasich, along with other state and local officials, broke ground this morning on a long-awaited Ohio River bridge replacement linking the communities of Ironton, Ohio and Russell, Kentucky.
"Few things promote regional growth, development and cooperation like safe, modern highways and bridges," said Gov. Beshear. "Ironton, Ohio, and Russell, Ky., are separated by a great river. But thanks to a bridge, they have been joined as neighbors for generations. The new Ironton-Russell bridge will preserve those social, cultural and economic connections."
The Ironton-Russell Bridge replacement project calls for replacing the existing bridge that connects the two communities via their downtown by relocating it between Second and Jefferson streets in downtown Ironton and the U.S. 23 viaduct south of Russell. The project, led by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) also includes demolition of the existing bridge upon completion of the new structure.
"Transportation is the lifeblood of our economy, and it is essential that we make investments in a system that will only make us stronger," said ODOT Director Jerry Wray. "So while the Ironton-Russell Bridge has served the communities well for the past 90 years, it's time to replace it with a modern, updated structure to carry goods and people over the great Ohio River."
Representatives and officials from Ohio and Kentucky, including ODOT Director Wray, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock, Mayor Rich Blankenship of Ironton and Mayor William Hopkins of Russell met the governors at Ironton's Depot Square for a ceremonial groundbreaking to commemorate the project's start and pay tribute to the existing bridge.
While today's ceremonial groundbreaking marked the start of the multi-year project, construction began in early March, with contractors clearing the banks of both state shores, drilling shafts for the Kentucky abutment and laying foundations for piers in Ohio.
ODOT awarded a contract in January to Brayman Construction Corporation for $81 million. Brayman Construction is headquartered in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania. The project has a four-year window for total completion, with an interim completion in the fall of 2015.