The Oakley Clark Collins Memorial Bridge is a cable-stayed suspension crossing of the Ohio River between Ironton, Ohio, and Russell, Kentucky. The bridge opened on November 23, 2016, and replaced the Ironton-Russell Bridge.
Environmental studies were performed on a then-proposed $33 million replacement of the Ironton-Russell Bridge in early 1999. 6 The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) awarded a $1.1 million contract to Michael Baker Jr., Inc. to conduct necessary studies on a proposed bridge location. Construction was proposed to begin in 2003 with a new bridge opening in 2006.
Four corridors were proposed by ODOT but all were rejected by the city of Ironton on September 16, 1999. 7 It asked ODOT to build a new two-lane bridge over the Ohio River immediately adjacent to the existing crossing, 15 but the city of Russell opposed such a move as it would potentially require the demolition of numerous residences within its city limits. 10 Two additional corridors were later added, as well as two existing bridge rehabilitation options. 13 14 ODOT had hoped to have a preferred alignment chosen by early 2000. 8
Detailed cost estimates for the new bridge, released in July 2000, ranged from $42 million to $61 million. 12 It was a significant increase from $33 million to $35 million from earlier figures because of material cost increases. Additionally, the six proposed alignments for the new crossing were narrowed down to just two by August 28: 13
- Alternate Alignment B, connecting Willow Alley in Russell to Second and Adams streets in Ironton
- Alignment BC-1, connecting US Route 23 and KY Route 244 in Russell to Second and Adams streets in Ironton
The preliminary design for a new 2,616-foot bridge with a 900-foot main span and two 370-foot auxiliary spans, two 12-foot lanes, ten-foot shoulders, a combination bicycle path and sidewalk, and a 500-foot central tower. 2
A draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in June 2002, 18 and the final EIS was cleared by the FHWA in January 2003. The preliminary design and right-of-way work for the new bridge began in April. 21
Alignment BC-1 was selected as the preferred alternative in April 2005, 23 by which point the estimated construction costs for the project had ballooned to $73 million. 24 The preliminary design was scrapped in January 2006 when the lowest of three bids submitted for construction came in just under $110 million. 1 Material cost inflation, attributed to Hurricane Katrina, was blamed for the high bids.
In 2012, a new bridge proposal was unveiled that featured the reduction of the bridge width from 48 feet to 32 feet 2 and the utilization of two shorter 315-foot towers instead of one central tower in a bid to reduce costs. 26
It was also proposed to use the first-in-their-type pre-cast stay anchor blocks to eliminate the need for a temporary stay anchorage, the use of pre-cast elements elsewhere, and the construction of the auxiliary spans in place using falsework to reduce the use of a traveler for the main span construction. 26 The modifications in the bridge’s design allowed the project cost to be estimated at $81.2 million, which included $79.3 in construction bonds and $1.4 million in federal funds. 26
Construction on the new Ohio River crossing began on March 5, 2012, and a ceremonial groundbreaking was held on May 3. 28 29 The new bridge, named after Oakley Clark Collins, opened at the cost of $81.4 million on November 23, 2016. 29 30 A ceremony to commemorate the bridge opening was held at 11 AM in downtown Ironton, which was followed by a parade across both the old and new bridges. 30
The last motorists to cross the old Ironton-Russell Bridge were Verna Mae Sloan, 102, an Ironton native, and Della Burton, 102, a Russell native. 29 Demolition of the old bridge began in late January 2017. 31
- State: Kentucky, Ohio
- Type: Cable-Stay Suspension
- Status: Active - Automobile
- Total Length: 2,616 feet
- Main Span Length: 900 feet
- Deck Width: 32 feet
- Navigational Clearance:
- “Cutting the cost.” Ashland Daily Independent, July 7, 2006. August 24, 2007.
- Hart, Kenneth. “Ironton-Russell Bridge.” Ashland Daily Independent, July 6, 2006. August 24, 2007.
- Hart, Kenneth. “Bridge rehab funding approved.” Ashland Daily Independent, August 20, 2006. August 24, 2007.
- “Spring inspections bring fall rehabilitation.” Ashland Daily Independent, February 28, 2007. August 24, 2007.
- James, Mike. “Ironton-Russell bridge still on back burner.” Ashland Daily Independent, March 20, 2007. August 24, 2007.
- Malloy, David E. “Study begins in effort to build bridge.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 27 Jan. 1999.
- Malloy, David E. “Ironton council says `no’ to bridge closure.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 10 Sept. 1999.
- Malloy, David E. “Official urges end.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 18 Sept. 1999.
- Malloy, David E. “Weight limits on bridge to be tested.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 26 Oct. 1999.
- Malloy, David E. “Ohio wants more bridge studies.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 23 Nov. 1999.
- Ross, Jim. “Ironton-Russell Bridge opened in 1922.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 22 Dec. 1999.
- Malloy, David E. “Ironton bridge estimate goes up.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 6 July 2000.
- Redekopp, Christina. “Ironton-Russell bridge proposals narrowed to two.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 6 July 2000.
- Malloy, David E. “Two Ironton bridge sites proposed.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 25 Oct. 2000.
- Malloy, David E. “Ironton rescinds action on bridge.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 25 May 2001.
- Malloy, David E. “Ironton-Russell bridge repairs could end by winter.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 1 July 2001.
- Malloy, David E. “Bridge to be closed in harsh weather.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 18 Jan. 2002.
- Malloy, David E. “Ironton-Russell bridge to be repaired.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 7 June 2002.
- Malloy, David E. “Ironton bridge project still needs funds.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 19 June 2002.
- Malloy, David E. “Impact study for new bridge completed.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 27 Jan. 2003.
- Malloy, David E. “Feds approve Ironton bridge.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 12 April 2003.
- Malloy, David E. “Falcons take flight.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 19 May 2004.
- Malloy, David E. “Bridge work may be bid on in fall.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 15 April 2005.
- “Ironton-Russell Bridge is long past its prime.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 19 April 2005.
- Shaffer, Mark. “Bridge to have periodic closures.” Ironton Tribune 24 May 2008. 13 Feb. 2009.
- Pfuntner, Jerry, and Tom Hesmond. “Perseverance and Innovation: Lessons from Ohio’s Ironton-Russell Bridge Replacement Project.” The American Road Transportation Builders Association. N.p., Apr. 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016.
- Adkins, Andrew. “Spanning It All.” Daily Independent [Ashland] 8 Jan. 2016: n.p. Web. 08 Sept. 2016.
- “Groundbreaking Held for New Ironton-Russell Bridge.” WSAZ [Charleston] 3 May 2012: n.p. Web. 08 Sept. 2016.
- Nash, Bishop. “Ironton-Russell Bridge is now open to traffic.” Herald-Dispatch [Huntington] 24 Nov. 2016: n.p. Web. 28 Dec. 2016.
- Malloy, David E. “Oakley Clark Collins Bridge opens to public today in Ironton and Russell.” Herald-Dispatch [Huntington] 23 Nov. 2016: n.p. Web. 28 Dec. 2016.
- James, Mike. “First step in bridge demolition tentatively set for next week.” Daily Independent [Ashland] 21 Jan. 2017: n.p. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.