Last updated: July 25. 2013 9:13AM - 282 Views

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Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet this week awarded a contract to Evers Welding Co. Inc. of Cincinnati to repair Ashland’s damaged 12th Street bridge. The $52,400 contract specifies a July 31 completion for the project.

The 12th Street Ben Williamson Memorial bridge, which carries traffic across the river between U.S. 52 at Coal Grove and U.S. 23 in downtown Ashland was damaged last month by a vehicle impact to a steel beam on its Ohio approach span. The damage led engineers to close the bridge on May 20 to ensure its structural integrity and the safety of motorists. By the following Tuesday, highway crews had converted the adjacent 13th Street bridge from one-way to two-way traffic, and structural design engineers began drawing up plans to replace the damaged steel beam.

The repair project was advertised June 7 and bids were opened Friday. Because of the project’s high priority, a contract procurement committee met ahead of schedule to award a bid today so that repairs can begin quickly.

“We realize that the 12th Street bridge is a vital link for countless Kentucky and Ohio residents,” said Bart Bryant, Kentucky Department of Highways District 9 Chief Engineer. “We appreciate people’s patience as we have worked to get a repair contract in place. Our highest priority continues to be repairing the bridge as quickly as possible so that it can once again safely connect these communities.”

During repairs, all 12th Street bridge traffic will remain rerouted using the converted 13th Street bridge, which now has one lane for Ohio to Kentucky travelers and two lanes from Kentucky to Ohio.

Traffic on U.S. 52 in Ohio can take the Ashland exit, turn right onto the 13th Street bridge and follow cone-marked lanes to U.S. 23-Winchester Avenue where all traffic must turn right. Northbound U.S. 23 vehicles can continue straight, and southbound U.S. 23 traffic can take the truck detour using Greenup Avenue. Southbound traffic on U.S. 23-Winchester Avenue is restricted to one left-turn lane onto the 13th Street bridge. (The dedicated left-turn lane has been eliminated to give incoming traffic more room.) Two lanes carry traffic across the bridge to access U.S. 52 toward either Ironton or South Point; and Northbound U.S. 23-Winchester Avenue traffic can turn right onto the 13th Street bridge as normal. And, 13th Street traffic can proceed along normal routes.

Traffic engineers have adjusted traffic signal timings where possible to enhance traffic flow. However, with one bridge handling the traffic of two bridges, motorists should expect delays and backups.

To keep the public up to date with repair plans, the Kentucky Department of Highways District 9 has established a web page with detailed traffic maps, current bridge status, a project timeline and other information. The public may access the web page at Transportation.ky.gov/District-9/Pages/Ashland-Bridges.aspx, or at Transportation.ky.gov/District-9 by clicking “Ashland Bridges.”

Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTWriter.

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