The Oakley Clark Collins Memorial Bridge connects Ironton, Ohio and Russell, Kentucky. It has recently replaced the old “Ironton-Russell” bridge, which was demolished due to the condition it was in. The eighty-nine million dollar Memorial bridge opened on November 23, 2016. The main contractor for the construction of the bridge was Brayman Construction Corporation.
The Oakley Clark Collins
Memorial Bridge replaced the Ironton-Russell Bridge. The Ironton-Russell Bridge
was opened in 1922 and was destroyed before the new Memorial Bridge opened in
2016. The original bridge was the first highway bridge built on the Ohio River
from Parkersburg, West Virginia to Cincinnati, Ohio. Replacing this nostalgic
bridge, the Oakley Memorial Bridge is the longest bridge that the
Ohio Department of Transportation has ever been a part of.
The bridge is a cable-stayed bridge that is over 902 feet
long. This bridge was necessary for the community and local commerce due to the travel
restrictions put on the previous bridge, barring vehicles wider than seven foot,
six inches from crossing. The only exceptions from this rule from the Ohio
Department of Transportation were emergency vehicles and school buses. There
were many ideas and plans considered in replacing the original bridge once it
was deemed unsafe. Some of these plans included a single-tower cable suspension
bridge that would have stretched three lanes. This design was eventually
converted to the now existing bridge due to the cost being too expensive. The
original design was made in 2003 but due to the drastic effects Hurricane Katrina,
cost of construction sky-rocketed.
The bridge is named after Oakley C. Collins, who was a
Republican Ohio State Senator for over thirty years. Oakley Collins also has
the Ohio University Southern Campus named after him. The name dedication comes from
his involvement in education for more than twenty years. He served on the United
States Senate and served as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives. Oakley
Collins lived a seventy-eight year life, full of accomplishments that would
help the community and State around him and for that, naming of the bridge
after him was felt to be much deserved.
The new bridge is not only a wonderful sight to see during
the day, but at night it has luminating blue/purple lights to light up the
night sky on the Ohio River. These LEDs that are currently featured on the bridge,
cost between an estimated four hundred thousand and five hundred thousand dollars
to install. The bridge was not just a must needed addition to the area, or a necessary replacement for the previous bridge, but an essential piece to the
bring back people's pride in the area.