Ironton-Russell Replacement Marks Largest Ohio Span

Thu September 11, 2014 - National Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

Crews in Ohio are currently working on a bridge with the longest span that the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has ever constructed — a total of 900 ft. (274 m).
Crews in Ohio are currently working on a bridge with the longest span that the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has ever constructed — a total of 900 ft. (274 m).
Crews in Ohio are currently working on a bridge with the longest span that the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has ever constructed — a total of 900 ft. (274 m). The navigational clearance for the bridge will be 805 ft. (245 m). The main span unit consists of three spans; two flanking spans at 370 ft. (112 m) each and the center span of 900 ft. (274 m). Span lengths for the approaches vary widely since they cross numerous rail lines, the Ohio River levee, and city streets. Connecting the cities of Ironton, Ohio, and Russell, Ky., the Ironton-Russell Bridge replacement project entails the construction of a cast-in-place concrete, cable-stayed bridge over the Ohio River with structural steel approaches and reinforced concrete The two-lane structure will provide two 12-ft. (3.7 m) driving lanes and two 4 ft. (1.2 m) shoulders for a total width of 32 ft. (9.7 m). ODOT awarded the contract, valued at $81.3 million, to Brayman Construction Corporation of Saxonburg, Pa., in January 2012. The main span unit consists of three spans; two flanking spans at 370 ft. (112 m) each and the center span of 900 ft. (274 m). The main span will be supported by two cast-in-place 316-ft. (96 m) tall delta-shaped towers, founded on large diameter drilled shafts with rock sockets. The project started on March 5, 2012, and is anticipated to be completed in early spring of 2016. According to Kathleen Fuller, public information officer of ODOT, the original interim completion date (when the bridge will be open to traffic) was targeted for mid- to late-fall of 2015. Final completion for the entire project, which includes demolition of the existing bridge, will follow after the new bridge is open.


Crews in Ohio are currently working on a bridge with the longest span that the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has ever constructed — a total of 900 ft. (274 m).

Connecting the cities of Ironton, Ohio, and Russell, Ky., the Ironton-Russell Bridge replacement project entails the construction of a cast-in-place concrete, cable-stayed bridge over the Ohio River with structural steel approaches and reinforced concrete edge girder superstructure on the main span. The two-lane structure will provide two 12-ft. (3.7 m) driving lanes and two 4 ft. (1.2 m) shoulders for a total width of 32 ft. (9.7 m).

ODOT awarded the contract, valued at $81.3 million, to Brayman Construction Corporation of Saxonburg, Pa., in January 2012. Brayman’s onsite project manager is Tom Hesmond, and ODOT’s area field engineer is Dave Bame.

The project started on March 5, 2012, and is anticipated to be completed in early spring of 2016. According to Kathleen Fuller, public information officer of ODOT, the original interim completion date (when the bridge will be open to traffic) was targeted for mid- to late-fall of 2015. Final completion for the entire project, which includes demolition of the existing bridge, will follow after the new bridge is open.

The main span unit consists of three spans; two flanking spans at 370 ft. (112 m) each and the center span of 900 ft. The main span will be supported by two cast-in-place 316-ft. (96 m) tall delta-shaped towers, founded on large diameter drilled shafts with rock sockets.

Span lengths for the approaches vary widely since they cross numerous rail lines, the Ohio River levee, and city streets. On the Kentucky side, the spans are 140 and 235 ft. (42.7 and 71.6 m); in Ohio the spans are 110, 144, 186 and 144 ft. (33.5, 43.9, 56.7 and 43.9 m). The approach bridges are founded on small diameter drilled shafts (Kentucky) or steel pile (Ohio).

Fuller noted that the main structure of the bridge will have 120 cables. There will be 15 pairs in the Ohio back span, 30 pairs in the main span, and 15 pairs in the Kentucky back span. The strands are made of steel, and the number of strands varies in each of the cables from a minimum of 14 located in the cables nearest both towers to a maximum of 35 in the cables farthest from the towers on the back span sides. The cables at the mid-span contain 31 strands each.

“There is one abutment and two piers on the Kentucky approach; two towers in the river; and four piers and one abutment on the Ohio approach,” Fuller said. “Pier 2 on the Kentucky approach is actually located in the river. All abutments, piers and towers will be cast-in-place, reinforced, concrete. The tallest pier is Pier 2 at 80 ft. (24.4 m), and the widest pier is Pier 1 at 60 ft. (18 m). The foundations for Towers 3 and 4, as well as Piers 2 and 5, are cast-in-place, reinforced, concrete footings on drilled shafts. Pre-cast cofferdams are being used for Towers 3 and 4, and a conventional cofferdam was used for Pier 2.”

The navigational clearance for the bridge will be 805 ft. (245 m).

“There are always challenges when constructing a project of this magnitude, and they can be especially great when constructing over a sizeable river crossing like the Ohio River,” Fuller said. “Many of these challenges were realized during the design phase, with regards to placement of the towers, the skew or alignment of the bridge from approach to approach, and the touchdown locations in both communities. And with the numerous underground utilities, railroad crossings and waterway concerns, there were many key permit and right-of-way issues that needed to be addressed prior to construction.

“However, the contractors recognized alternative construction methods, proposing and implementing changes to the project and sequencing that were not only unique, but would prove to be feasible, economical, and efficient. More specifically, Brayman crews have used pre-cast coffer cells rather than the typical, large steel cofferdam to build the tower foundations. The use of pre-cast stay anchor blocks allow the contractors to immediately install the cable stay, and specially designed falsework that reduces the number of form travelers from two to one allows for the main span to be cast in place in a segmental, cantilevered approach. While implementing these construction methods, they have been able to accelerate some phases of the staging and create a safer work environment.”

Major subcontractors for the project include J & B Steel Erectors Inc., Hamilton, Ohio, for reinforcing steel; Boone Coleman Construction Inc., West Portsmouth, Ohio, for roadway items; and West End Electric Company Inc., Portsmouth, Ohio, for electrical items.

Major equipment used on the job includes a Manitowac 888 200-ton (181 t) crane, two Terex CC700 275-ton (249 t) cranes, two Manitowac 222 100-ton (91 t) cranes, an American 9299 165-ton (150 t), a Steven M. Hain 450K T-3 drill, a PileCo D12-42 diesel hammer, an Ice 44B vibratory pile driver/extractor, and an Ice 416 vibratory pile driver/extractor.

Quantities of steel include 4.8 million lbs. (2.2 million kg) of epoxy coated reinforcing steel, 3.2 million lbs. (1.5 million kg) of structural steel, 154,266 lbs. (69,974 kg) of post tensioning tendons (strand), and 183,551 lbs. (83,257 kg) of post tensioning bars

Concrete used includes a total of 24,395 cu. yd. (18,651 cu m), with 5,855 cu. yd. (4,476 cu m) of 4,500 psi concrete in the micro silica modified concrete superstructure, 5,732 cu. yd. (4,382 cu m) of 6,500 psi concrete in the cable stayed concrete overlay, 5,640 cu. yd. (4,312 cu m)of 6,500 psi concrete in the main span piers and towers, 1,563 cu. yd. (1,195 cu m) of 4,500 psi concrete in the superstructure (deck and approaches), 4,109 cu. yd. (3,142 cu m) of 4,000 psi concrete in the footings, and 1,496 cu. yd. (1,144 cu m) of 4,000 to 4,500 psi concrete in the approaches.