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Ashland bridge to close for 2 months

September 3, 2018

ASHLAND — A tentative mid-September start date has been set for Ashland’s 12th Street bridge to be closed to allow for major repairs.

The work is part of a $1 million preventive maintenance project through the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and will require a two-month closure of the Ohio River crossing, which carries about 14,000 cars a day from Ohio to Kentucky.

The project, being completed by Delong Concrete LLC of Lexington, includes a new concrete driving surface, new connecting joints and other repairs to the 1930s-era green bridge — officially named the Ben Williamson Memorial Bridge — which will help ensure its longevity, according to officials with the Kentucky Department of Highways District 9.

According to a release from transportation officials, closing the bridge is the safest option for both motorists and contractors, as the structure is too narrow to work in one lane while traffic is flowing in the other lane. The move also is expected to shorten the repair time.

During construction, all traffic on the one-way 12th Street bridge coming from U.S. 52 in Ohio to U.S. 23 and U.S. 60 in downtown Ashland will be detoured across the adjacent 13th Street (blue) bridge, the Simeon Willis Bridge.

The 13th Street bridge, which normally carries traffic one way from Kentucky to Ohio, will be converted to handle two-way traffic.

Weather and construction schedules permitting, contractors plan to start Sunday, Sept. 9, on that conversion process by repainting traffic lanes and reconfiguring traffic islands and signals at intersections on both sides of the river, while the full traffic switch — when two-way traffic will begin flowing across the 13th Street bridge — is tentatively set to occur some time Sept. 10.

Prior to those start dates, specific schedules and traffic changes will be announced by the Department of Highways, and during the project, updated traffic information will be distributed via local media and online at http://transportation.ky.gov/DistrictNine.

The 12th Street bridge was fully refurbished in the 1980s and since then has seen several painting and maintenance projects. But according to the Department of Highways, engineers who recently analyzed the bridge’s concrete pavement determined that the work would be necessary to safeguard the bridge’s ability to handle its traffic load.

The project is slated to be completed by Nov. 15.

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