Taxpayers not on hook for failed implosions of old I-71 bridge

Published: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 @ 8:43 AM

The third time was not quite the charm ODOT officials were expecting as contractors tried again to take down the remaining steel structure of the Jeremiah-Morrow Bridge this past weekend. Done view of the demo work.

Despite four tries, work to implode the old Jeremiah Morrow Bridge over Interstate 71 in Warren County won’t cost taxpayers more money.

State officials and contractors, however, are still trying to figure out how to get the last section of the stubborn structure down.

Pennsylvania-based subcontractor Demtech is expected to complete the demolition and removal of demolished materials without additional funding.

“If it takes them a hundred tries or one try, the contract was to bring down the bridge,” Matt Bruning, press secretary for ODOT, said Monday. “There won’t be any additional costs to the taxpayers.”

WATCH: Section of Jeremiah Morrow Bridge is imploded

The Ohio Department of Transportation will meet this week with the contractor about what to do with the piece that so far has not been demolished — despite four tries in three of the last four weeks.

This is the southernmost section of the southbound span of the old Jeremiah Morrow Bridge before the implosions.(Staff Writer)

The fourth explosive charges, set on Sunday, was the third day designated for implosion of the old southbound span of the bridge over Interstate 71 and the little Miami River. Sunday’s attempt brought down the southern part of the southernmost piece of the southbound span.

RELATED: Third implosion in four weeks

But the north side of the remaining steel landed on the cement pier for the old bridge, according to Bruning.

“It was supposed to come down like a W. It came down more like a V. The southern part is still sitting on the pier,” Bruning said.

It remained unclear what ODOT and Demtech, the subcontractor hired by Kokosing Construction to do the job for $3 million, will do next.

“It’s too early to tell,” Bruning said. “The plan going forward they will develop over the next week.”

RELATED: Bridge implosion misfires

Demtech has not responded to requests for interviews about the project, begun on April 23 with much hoopla, including media access.

The past two implosion attempts have been off limits to the public and media.

The area around the bridge, including I-71, flight path above, river and bike path below were all blocked off May 7 from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.

On Sunday the northbound lane was only partially closed, but otherwise transportation was again blocked off and rerouted during the implosion.

» EARLIER: I-71 bridge, Ohio’s tallest, nears completion after 6 years, $104M

As part of closing out the contract, ODOT could pursue fines, known as liquidated damages, but that determination has yet to be made, Bruning said.

“Obviously nobody planned on this all happening. Our focus has been on bringing the bridge down,” he said.

No injuries in crash on Ohio 63, west of Lebanon

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 4:08 PM
Updated: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 6:35 PM


UPDATE @ 6:36 p.m. 

Ohio 63 has reopened after a single vehicle crash into a ditch.

According to the Ohio State Patrol at Lebanon, drugs and alcohol may have been a factor. No injuries have been reported.

The crash is still under investigation. 


Ohio 63 is closed between Ohio 741 and McClure Road, west of Lebanon, due to a crash.

The Ohio Department of Transportation is recommending drivers use an alternate route.

MORE: Ohio 63 in Warren County reopens after April crash

Arrow boards or signs will be in place to alert motorists.

There were no reported injuries, according to Warren County officials.

MORE: Ohio 741 bypass part of plans in Warren County 

“To help ensure the safety of the first responders as well as the traveling public, motorists should remain alert, reduce their speed and watch for stopped traffic while passing through the work zone,” according to the ODOT press release.

For more information, call 513- 933-6517 or 513-933-6534.

Keowee Street detours delayed, but bridge will close for almost 2 years

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 3:48 PM

The Keowee Street Bridge over the Great Miami River will close in December, as soon as the new Helena Street Bridge is opened, says Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner. A construction bid of $8.8 million has been awarded to Eagle Construction for a new bridge and demolition of the existing bridge will take place first. The Keowee St. Bridge is the last of the filled arch bridges in Montgomery County and carries about 20,000 cars daily between Harrison Township and the City of Dayton. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Ty Greenlees
The Keowee Street Bridge over the Great Miami River will close in December, as soon as the new Helena Street Bridge is opened, says Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner. A construction bid of $8.8 million has been awarded to Eagle Construction for a new bridge and demolition of the existing bridge will take place first. The Keowee St. Bridge is the last of the filled arch bridges in Montgomery County and carries about 20,000 cars daily between Harrison Township and the City of Dayton. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

Replacement of the Keowee Street bridge over the Great Miami River will stymie traffic between Dayton and Harrison Twp. and impact some area businesses for almost two years beginning within weeks. 

“It’s never a good situation, but it’s one where the bridge needs to be redone,” said Jeff Davis, general manager of J&T Dayton Sandblasting Services that sits in Harrison Twp. on a block of North Dixie Drive that will be closed for months.

“It’s a necessary evil,” he said.

Detours will be in place until at least September 2019 for replacement of the deteriorating, 86-year-old bridge — the final one of its kind found locally, said Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner.

“It’s the last of the filled-arch bridges in the city of Dayton,” Gruner said. “They were very labor intensive. You really can’t afford to rebuild them like this in the present time.”

MORE: Self-driving vehicles: Are they a threat to Dayton jobs?

In addition to the 20,000 vehicle drivers who cross the bridge daily between Dayton and Harrison Twp., users of the Great Miami River Recreational Trail and paddlers on the river will also be confronted with detours and portages.

The date the Keowee Street bridge will close has been revised to Dec. 18 at the earliest, or until the new Helena Street bridge nearby reopens, according to the county. Detours from the Helena Street bridge — set to open soon — have routed traffic over the Keowee Street bridge during that year-long construction project.

RELATED: Dayton bridge project part of $175M investment

Patrons of Ben’s Batteries in Harrison Twp. will still be able to reach the business, but owner Robert Kucharski said he’s not entirely sure how.

“North Dixie will be closed to through traffic, but you should still be able to get here. That’s what I’m hoping,” he said. “If they can’t get here at all, I might as well shut the doors. That’s not going to be good.”

When traffic starts flowing again in late 2019, it will cross a new 550-foot long, pre-stressed concrete I-girder structure, Gruner said.

“It’s not a real fancy bridge, but it will be a nice looking bridge when it’s finished,” he said.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO: 6 times bridges or buildings have been imploded in southwest Ohio

Sidewalks, now six-and-a-half-feet wide, will be widened to 10 feet on the new five-lane bridge. The center pier will feature overlooks on each side of the bridge with girders painted medium blue.

Along with neighboring residents and businesses, Gruner said the department also worked on the design with the region’s rowing community, leading to wider spans that will allow two side-by-side sculls to pass underneath.

The contractor, Eagle Bridge Company in Sidney, is already prepping for demolition and working on the bikeway and river portages, Gruner said.

MORE: Major Kettering road to close in both directions for months

Total construction engineering and construction costs on the project total about $9.3 million, more than 70 percent coming from federal bridge and surface transportation funding. About $1 million was additionally spent on design engineering and right-of-way acquisition, according to the engineer’s office.

In September, the county opened a new $7.3 million bridge on Harshman Road over the Mad River near the entrance to Eastwood MetroPark. After the Keowee Street bridge, the next big Montgomery County bridge project will the the Third Street bridge in Dayton that will span about 700 feet over the Great Miami River with a projected cost of $20 million, Gruner said.

Traffic deaths keep rising in US, but distracted driving fatalities fall

Published: Sunday, October 08, 2017 @ 12:21 PM

Channel 2's Consumer Advisor explains the easy way you can help bring that number down.

WASHINGTON — Traffic fatalities in the U.S. jumped for the second-straight year in 2016 despite a dip in crash deaths linked to distracted driving, according to data released by federal highway safety regulators.

Some 37,461 people died in vehicle collisions in 2016, the highest annual tally since 2007, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures. The 5.6 percent rise in traffic deaths last year came after an 8.4 percent spike in 2015, which was the largest annual increase since the mid-1960s.

Fatalities from distracted drivers, such as those texting, fell 2.2 percent last year, NHTSA reported Friday. Deaths linked to other risky behaviors such as speeding, drunken driving and not wearing seat belts contributed to an overall gain in fatalities, the agency said. Drunken driving was blamed for the most deaths.

The agency “continues to promote vehicle technologies that hold the potential to reduce the number of crashes and save thousands of lives every year,” it said in a statement. They “may eventually help reduce or eliminate human error and the mistakes that drivers make behind the wheel.”

» Mom’s viral photo of crash aftermath serves as car seat safety reminder

Another increase in the number of miles driven by American motorists last year helps explain some but not all of the increase in crash deaths. Total vehicle miles traveled increased 2.2 percent last year while the fatality rate grew 2.6 percent to 1.18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, according to the agency. Miles driven gained 2.3 percent in 2015.

Regulators have sounded the alarm about the rising safety risks on the roads and highways, which comes after a downward trend for the last decade. The gains have also fueled interest on Capitol Hill in self-driving vehicles as a way to curb deadly crashes, with lawmakers advancing legislation to speed autonomous vehicle deployment.

NHTSA also found that pedestrian, motorcyclist and bicyclist deaths also rose in 2016. Non-vehicle occupants accounted for nearly a third of all crash fatalities last year, up from roughly 1 in 4 traffic deaths in 2007.

(With assistance from Lisa Du .)

Heavy traffic expected on I-70 west during bridge replacement 

Published: Thursday, September 07, 2017 @ 10:24 AM

I70w bridge construction

 Indiana will begin work on a bridge replacement for I-70 westbound approximately 3 miles west of the Ohio State line today.

The construction will reduce westbound I-70 to one lane starting today until around September 22. Traffic congestion will back up into Preble County with potentially ten miles of reduced speeds and long delays.  

i70 westbound travelers will experience heavy delays in the next two weeks

A detour has been established that directs traffic north on US-127 to west US-36 and south US 27 back to I-70.   


The Ohio State Highway Patrol, Indiana State Police, Preble County Sheriff’s Department, Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and Richmond Police Department all stress the need for patience and safe driving during this project. 

 If you have an alternate route available it may be best to avoid the area. Please allow for extra time if you are traveling on I-70 west from Ohio to Indiana.


All agencies remind drivers to plan ahead, follow the vehicle in front of you at a safe distance and wear your seatbelt.