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Date set for Fort Steuben Bridge blast

February 1, 2012
By WARREN SCOTT - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - The Ohio Department of Transportation has announced the date for an explosive blast that will bring down the Fort Steuben Bridge.

Becky Giauque, spokeswoman for ODOT, said the blast will occur on Feb. 20 "as close to daylight as possible" and more details, including its affect on traffic, will be announced at a later date.

Officials with ODOT said earlier the span's towers and cables and much of its trusses will fall with a single blast detonated in a procedure expected to occur in about 15 minutes.

Northbound traffic from the highway has been rerouted to the bridge's former approach lanes while crews with the Joseph B. Fay Co. of Russellton, Pa., remove the span's deck in 5-by-20-foot sections.

Nick Susich, area construction engineer for ODOT, said pieces of the bridge, some weighing as much as 120,000 pounds, will be lifted from the Ohio River by crane and loaded onto several barges operated by the River Salvage Co. of Pittsburgh, a subcontractor for the project.

Susich said the contractor will own scrap metal from the bridge through a provision in its contract for the $2.3 million project.

"The Coast Guard requires that everything must be pulled out of the river within 24 hours," said Wasseem Khalifa, district bridge engineer for ODOT.

He added small explosive charges will be set off in the river before the blast to deter fish from entering the area.

ODOT called for the bridge to be closed in 2009, citing deteriorating conditions, costs to rehabilitate and maintain it and decreased use since its weight limit was lowered to prohibit heavy trucks.

The span opened in 1928 as a private toll bridge and was the first Ohio River suspension bridge to have a concrete floor. A free facility since the 1950s, when the state of Ohio became its permanent owner, it underwent several rehabilitations.

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