A section of the old Jeremiah Morrow Bridge carrying Interstate 71 over the Little Miami River was still standing this week, despite four sets of explosions detonated over the past month designed to bring it down.
The final ensnarled piece of the steel structure for the old southbound span still rested on the cement pier from which it had extended since the bridge was built, more than five decades ago.’
”It’s something that has to come down,” said Brian Cunningham, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, before the fourth demolition try scheduled for Sunday morning. “Unfortunately, it has taken more than we had originally anticipated.”
WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEMOLITION?
The demolition of the bridge is one of the last steps in the six-year, $104 million replacement project.
Kokosing Construction, the general contractor hired by the state of Ohio, agreed to pay Demtech, a Pennsylvania-based contractor, $3 million to bring down and dispose of the old bridge.
The Ohio Department of Transportation expects to settle up next year with Kokosing, which is left to pay Demtech. The state could seek damages, in light of the delays and inconvenience, but no decision has been yet been made, officials said. State officials said that taxpayers will not pay more to demolish the bridge than first contracted.
WHO WAS AFFECTED?
More than 40,000 cars cross the bridge on an average day. During the implosions, stretching from 6 to 11 a.m. on three of the past four Sundays, traffic was detoured around this section - from exit 123 to the Ohio 48 exchanges of I-71 in Warren County. In addition, canoeists and users of the trail running alongside the river were also rerouted and planes, drones and other aerial devices were prohibited from entering the air space around the bridge.
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ODOT picked Sunday because it is typically a low-traffic day.
But last Sunday, Mother’s Day celebrants - and others intent on taking advantage of the opening of the canoe and kayak season on the stretch of the river below - were diverted or prevented from following this route.
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WHY HAVEN’T THE IMPLOSIONS WORKED?
Demtech and other experts have not responded to requests for interviews about the implosion problems. Last Sunday, ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning said the piece still standing fell in a V, rather than a W, landing on the cement pier from the old bridge, rather than falling to the ground below.
Demtech, Kokosing and ODOT met again this week to figure how to finally get the job done.
WHAT IS SUNDAY’S PLAN?
This time, some beams from the remaining span will be cut to widen the separation with others before charges are detonated again, according to Cunningham.
“Hopefully, we aren’t talking about this on Monday,” Cunningham said.
WHO WAS JEREMIAH MORROW?
• Jeremiah Morrow was Ohio’s ninth governor.
• One of Warren County’s most notable early statesmen, he served the state as a legislator, political leader and the ninth governor of Ohio.
• Morrow was born in Adams County, Pa., on Oct. 6, 1771. The oldest of nine children of a Scotch-Irish family, he grew up on a farm only a few miles from Gettysburg. Morrow moved to the Northwest Territory in 1795 to eventually settle in Warren County.
• His neighbors elected him to the territorial legislature in 1801 as Ohio was preparing for statehood and was selected to be the state’s first U.S. Congressman following Ohio’s admittance to the Union. He also served as a U.S. Senator as well as a state senator and representative.
• Morrow served two gubernatorial terms - elected in 1822 and 1824. In that time, he was instrumental in improving Ohio’s transportation infrastructure, which included the development of the two canal systems linking Lake Erie to the Ohio and Miami rivers.
• He also served as first president of the Little Miami Railroad from 1837 to 1845. He spent his final years at his home near Lebanon, running a saw and gristmill and participating in local politics as a township trustee, school director and superintendent of roads.
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