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UPDATE: 12th Street Bridge in Ashland Back Open

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email
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Bridge Detour Puts Strain on Local Businesses

ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The 12th Street bridge shutdown isn't just causing a headache for drivers; it's putting a strain on bank accounts.

At Applebee's Friday night, there was no wait, and the lunchtime crowd Tuesday was sparse.

Jenny Castro, who manages the Applebee's, said it's taking a toll on her servers, some of whom now have an hour commute because of the shutdown.

"One of them said they would have to get a second job because of this," Castro explained.

Down the street at Fat Patty's there were plenty of open tables. The normal lunchtime rush typically means server Michelle Hagley would have three to four tables at a time. Tuesday she had one.

Fat Patty's Manager Alyssa Hammond explained the bridge being out has meant lost tips, lost tables, and lost time for the businesses who feed off of her restaurants business.

"Not only has it effected our employees, it's effected our business. I am sure even our distributers are having difficulty in getting here properly," Hammond said. She went on to explain they are losing anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per shift. 

A brand-new budget boutique, La-Te-Da that opened about two months ago near the front of the Arcade in Downtown Ashland, is thrilled to get new traffic in the door, but the traffic standstill caused by the bridge has meant foot traffic has been light.

"First Friday's are helping get the word out and what not, but so any kind of little hiccup like this throws us for a loop, but we are hoping it will be remedied quick," explained Jennifer Weaver of La-Te-Da.

All businesses representatives told WSAZ.com they understood the setback and had been assured a temporary fix would ease the problem sooner rather than later.

Late Tuesday, the Kentucky Department of Transportation announced plans to open a lane of traffic headed into Kentucky on the "blue" bridge that normally takes drivers across the river into Ohio.

Click here to watch a live feed from our Ashland Weather Camera

UPDATE 8/11/13 @ 7 p.m
ASHLAND, Ky (WSAZ) -- After several months of being closed off to traffic, the 12th Street bridge in Ashland is back open.

The bridge closed back in May when it was hit and damaged.

Construction crews spent Friday and Saturday replacing a steel beam.

Work wasn't expected to be complete until at least Monday, but was ahead of schedule. The bridge reopened about 1:20 p.m. Sunday.

"There is some work left to do. That includes some of the temporary traffic control we have in place right now when we made the 13th Street bridge two-way as a temporary measure," Allen Blair of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said.

Blair said the work would be done in the next few days.

Joe Lutz said he was surprised to find the bridge open Sunday ahead of schedule.

"It's very good news. I work in Boyd County," Lutz, who lives in Ironton, said. "Traversing that bridge the way they had it set up was a pain."

He added, "It'll be a lot quicker commute to work now."



UPDATE 8/8/13 @ 7 p.m
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) – Drivers traveling near Ashland and Ironton this weekend should expect traffic changes and delays as work begins to repair and reopen the damaged 12th Street bridge.

Friday evening at 6, contractors began work replacing a steel beam on the bridge’s Ohio approach span. Work will continue through early Monday morning.

To protect motorists, traffic on US 52 beneath the bridge is being diverted during construction.

Friday evening Michelle Moore was driving back home to South Point from Ironton when she got caught in the traffic.

"I think it's horrible and very misinformed," Moore said.

Moore says the traffic is so bad, she’s canceling her weekend plans to avoid getting caught in it again.

"It's just too much aggravation," she said.

-All eastbound US 52 through traffic – that is, motorists traveling from Ironton toward South Point – will be directed to take the Ashland bridge exit ramp near Coal Grove, proceed up the ramp, past the Ashland bridge turns, and use the facing on ramp to re-enter US 52 east of the work site.

-All Ashland-bound traffic using the converted 13th Street bridge will continue using the same exit ramps to reach their destinations. Westbound US 52 motorists approaching from South Point toward Ironton will be unaffected, but should watch for congested traffic near the bridges.

Drivers should expect significant delays and should seek alternate routes during construction.

The 12th Street bridge will reopen after work is complete and as soon as the structure is deemed safe to cross by transportation inspectors.

If the weather permits and there are no unforeseen complications, the reopening could occur as early as Monday, Aug. 12.

The 12th Street bridge, which carries traffic across the river between US 52 at Coal Grove and US 23 in downtown Ashland, was damaged in late May when a truck crashed into the Ohio approach span.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 7/30/13
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The work to repair a steel beam on Ashland's 12th Street Bridge is taking longer than expected.

Work on the bridge was expected to be finished by the end of July, but is now pushed back a couple of weeks to around mid-August.

The Ohio Highway Patrol says Dennis J. Smith, 59 of South Point, Ohio was the driver of a truck that crashed into 12th Street Bridge (green bridge) in Ashland in May. That crash led to the bridge being closed later that month.

Smith is charged with failure to control and leaving the scene of a crash.

The Kentucky Department of Transportation says the contractor fixing the bridge will be on the scene Aug. 9-12 to make the repairs.

They also say the repair work is being restricted to weekends to reduce traffic impacts.

“These last two months, the Tri-State area has been severely inconvenienced by a vehicle accident and the subsequent traffic issues it has caused,” said Bart Bryant, Kentucky Department of Highways District 9 Chief Engineer. “We appreciate the public’s continued patience as engineers and contractors move closer to reopening the bridge.”

While the bridge is closed, the 13th Street Bridge has been opened to traffic in both directions.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 7/1/13 @ 2:40 p.m.
IRONTON, Ohio (WSAZ) --They're just misdemeanor charges, but one man was getting a lot of attention in court Monday due to the nature of those charges.

The Ohio Highway Patrol says Dennis J. Smith, 59 of South Point, Ohio was the driver of a truck that crashed into 12th Street Bridge (green bridge) in Ashland in May. That crash led to the bridge being closed until repairs can be completed at the end of July.

Smith was arraigned Monday afternoon in Ironton Municipal Court on charges of failure to control and leaving the scene of a crash.

The accident happened on May 17th causing the bridge to be closed on May 24th due to the damage. Investigators say Smith was driving a 1987 Mack semi-trailer loaded with scrap metal at the time if the crash.

Due to the seriousness of the crime, Judge O. Clark Collins set Smith’s bond at $10,000. He was taken into custody following the hearing.

Smith was appointed an attorney during the hearing. He will be back in court July 18th at 9am for a pre-trial hearing.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 6/28/13 @ 8 p.m.
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The Ohio State Highway Patrol says they have identified the driver of truck that crashed into 12th Street Bridge (green bridge) in Ashland in May. That crash led to the bridge being closed until repairs can be completed.

Troopers have charged Dennis J. Smith, 59, of South Point, Ohio with failure to control and leaving the scene of a crash. Smith is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in Ironton Municipal Court Monday afternoon.

Investigators say Smith was driving a 1987 Mack tractor-trailer loaded with scrap metal at the time of the crash on May 17.

The tractor-trailer was headed west on U.S. 52 in Ohio and made a left turn onto the bridge to head south into Ashland. As the tractor-trailer was turning, the trailer struck a bridge support beam off the right side of the roadway. The tractor-trailer continued into Kentucky without the driver stopping or reporting the crash, according to the Patrol.

A Cincinnati company has a July 31 deadline to make repairs to the damaged bridge.

Meanwhile, all traffic is currently using the 13th Street Bridge (blue bridge) -- both into and out of Ashland. The green bridge has been closed since May 24.

Both bridges link Ashland with Lawrence County, Ohio, with the blue bridge usually handling traffic leaving Ashland and the green bridge typically handling traffic into Ashland.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 6/19/13 @ 1:20 p.m.
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A Cincinnati company has a July 31 deadline to make repairs to the damaged 12th Street Bridge in Ashland.

Wednesday, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet awarded a contract to Evers Welding Co. to make the repairs. Barring any unforeseen complications, the Ohio River bridge should reopen around that date.

“We appreciate people’s patience as we have worked to get a repair contract in place. Our highest priority continues to be repairing the bridge as quickly as possible so that it can once again safely connect these communities,” said Bart Bryant, Kentucky Department of Highways District 9 Chief Engineer.

The 12th Street (Ben Williamson Memorial) bridge, which carries traffic across the river between US 52 at Coal Grove and US 23 in downtown Ashland, was damaged last month when a vehicle hit a steel beam on the Ohio approach.

The damage led engineers to close the bridge on May 20.

By the following Tuesday, highway crews had converted the adjacent 13th Street bridge from one-way to two-way traffic, and structural design engineers began drawing up plans to replace the damaged steel beam.

During repairs, all 12th Street bridge traffic will remain rerouted using the converted 13th Street bridge, which now has one lane for Ohio to Kentucky travelers and two lanes from Kentucky to Ohio:


  1. Traffic on US 52 in Ohio can take the Ashland exit, turn right onto the 13th Street bridge and follow cone-marked lanes to US 23-Winchester Avenue where all traffic must turn right. Northbound US 23 vehicles can continue straight, and southbound US 23 traffic can take the truck detour using Greenup Avenue.

  2. Southbound traffic on US 23-Winchester Avenue is restricted to one left-turn lane onto the 13th Street bridge. (The dedicated left-turn lane has been eliminated to give incoming traffic more room.) Two lanes carry traffic across the bridge to access US 52 toward either Ironton or South Point.

  3. Northbound US 23-Winchester Avenue traffic can turn right onto the 13th Street bridge as normal. And, 13th Street traffic can proceed along normal routes.

Traffic engineers have adjusted traffic signal timings where possible to enhance traffic flow. However, with one bridge handling the traffic of two bridges, motorists should expect delays and backups. Traffic traveling through Ashland to reach I-64 or US 23 may consider using.


  1. The 17th Street bridge from Chesapeake to West Huntington to I-64 to reach US 23 at Catlettsburg

  2. The Greenup Locks and Dam bridge to US 23 and the Industrial Parkway to reach I-64 just west of Grayson

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 6/3/13 @ Noon
ASHLAND, Ky (WSAZ) -- Engineers are still working to make the flow of traffic across the 13th Street bridge in Ashland as smooth as possible.

Allen Blair with the Kentucky Department of Transportation tells WSAZ.com that engineers are monitoring the detour route and signal timings to make sure traffic is moving efficiently.

Officials are urging drivers to plan ahead to give themselves some extra travel time, especially during morning and evening rush hours and lunch time.

Drivers are also reminded that the traffic pattern is right turn only off of the 13th Street bridge.

Blair says that engineers in the Transportation Cabinest's Frankfort bridge office are currently designing a repair for the 12th Street bridge and are drawing up specifics for a project advertisement. Once the replacement has been advertised, the department will accept bids and award a contract for the work.

You can keep an eye on the contract process by clicking here.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/29/13 @ 6 p.m.
ASHLAND, Ky (WSAZ) -- Engineers with the Kentucky Department of Transportation hope to have the green span of the bridge going from southern Ohio to Ashland open by the end of July 2013.

The project is going out to bid on June 20, and engineers are hoping the process is fast-tracked to keep traffic moving.

Motorists should expect delays, as only one lane on the blue bridge is open entering eastern Kentucky.

Crews are hoping to sync the traffic lights to help the flow of traffic into the city of Ashland.

An important traffic alert to pass along is that a left turn from the foot of the bridge onto Winchester Avenue in Ashland is prohibited.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/28/13 @ 10:35 p.m.
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The green Ashland bridge is still closed, which means a detour and delays for drivers, but one lane on the blue bridge is open so travelers can now enter Kentucky.

Allen Blair, a Kentucky Department of Highways spokesperson, knows the travel troubles for drivers trying to get from Ohio to Kentucky have been more than a headache.

"We're trying to keep traffic moving while we, you know, get this bridge repaired," Allen said. "Be aware that the situation that you have been traveling on this bridge in the last several years is going to change."

Blair and the rest of his crew have been working all day so drivers from Ohio can share the blue bridge while the green bridge is under repair.

Paula Sturgill of Ashland says the one open lane will be a huge help for her to visit family in Ironton, Ohio.

"I'm very glad they're doing it," Sturgill said. "If I wanted to go see any of them, it's going to make it a lot easier to be able to come back into Ashland instead of having to divert because I live on the other side of Ashland."

The plan is to keep that one lane on the blue bridge open throughout the summer until repairs to the green bridge are complete.

Officers with the Ashland Police Department will be on scene off and on for 24 hours making sure things go smoothly.



UPDATE 5/28/13
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The 13th Street Bridge, also known as the blue bridge in Ashland, will be open Tuesday night to traffic in both directions.

The 12th Street green bridge, carrying traffic from Ohio into Kentucky, has been shut down since late last week after a crash on the bridge caused structural damage.

Tuesday afternoon officials met at the Ashland Police Department to discuss a plan to get traffic moving.

According to Allen Blair with the Kentucky Department of Highways, the blue bridge, which carries traffic from Kentucky into Ohio, will be transformed into three lanes and carry traffic in both directions.

Blair says there will be one lane going from Ohio to Kentucky that will be open Tuesday evening.

Crews are working to widen the lane from Ohio to Kentucky, so it won't be as congested.

Blair tells WSAZ.com that they are going to leave two lanes of traffic for travelers leaving Ashland.

They are also going to close the dedicated left turn lane on Winchester Avenue, to make it easier for traffic coming into Ashland.

It is unknown how much it will cost to repair the steel beam on the 12th Street Bridge.

Blair says the green bridge likely will be closed until late summer.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/25/13
RUSSELL, Ky. (WSAZ) -- With the Ashland Bridge closed indefinitely to traffic coming from Route 52 in Ohio, one alternate route -- the Ironton-Russell Bridge -- is creating problems of its own.

The official alternate routes are the Jesse Stuart Memorial Bridge in Greenup, Ky. and the Nick Joe Rahall Bridge in Huntington.

But many drivers are taking the Ironton-Russell Bridge as a closer option, which has resulted in traffic backups in Russell and drivers detouring through side streets -- sometimes while speeding.

"15 to 20 at least," Timothy Gillette, who lives on Amanda Street, said of the drivers' speeds. "I don't know what people's hurry is."

Gillette's home is just blocks away from the main traffic light coming off the Ironton-Russell Bridge. His daughters also live on the street with their children. Gillette's seven-year-old granddaughter, Becca, spends quite a bit of time outside, kneeling on the sidewalk to play with chalk.

"She's on her knees like that, these cars come flying by here, they don't even see her," Gillette said, watching Becca draw.

"It's one of those situations where you take a breath saying, you know, 'My God, I don't want my child killed.'"

There are many children in Gillette's neighborhood who play outside. He said cars with out-of-state plates are particularly bad, with drivers who may not know the side streets ultimately lead back to the same main road.

Police say there is extra traffic because of the holiday weekend. To handle the higher volume, transportation officials have extended the city's green lights for the weekend to try and clear traffic.

"If you're stuck in Russell and you got a green light, it's longer than it's ever been," Jason Dean of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said Thursday. "You might have only had 45 seconds as little as two hours ago. We have bumped that up to the most possible amount of green we can give you, to clear you out of traffic in Russell."

While traffic has been a headache for both drivers and neighbors, it's not so bad for everyone. Two little girls set up a table on their street to sell Kool-Aid to drivers stuck in traffic.

The Ironton-Russell Bridge is not one of the official alternate routes while the Ashland Bridge is closed. Its weight limits are relatively low and it has been hit by barges before. The Ashland Bridge is closed until repairs can be made.

Keep clicking WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/23/13
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The main bridge that flows traffic into Ashland, Ky. from Southern Ohio is shut down because of bent steel. An accident earlier in the week causing structural damage -- and it's worse than engineers first thought.

20,000 cars cross that span every single day; from Southern Ohio and West Virginia, and the Department of Transportation says there's no quick fix.

To the average person it looks like a bridge, but to engineers -- it looks like a mess.

The 12th Street span of the Ashland Bridge is shut down until further notice.

"We need to close the bridge to protect the public," said Allen Blair, Information Supervisor with the Kentucky Department of Transportation.

An accident earlier this week damaged the bridge. Investigators believe it was a single vehicle hit-and-run.

"There is a criminal offense of leaving the scene of an accident so we'll be exploring those avenues," said Mark McDowell with the Ashland Police Department.

Traffic is moving, but slowly and only after people realize that there's no crossing.

Making the other bridge two lanes is an option; but not high on the list. Engineers say because of barrels, new traffic patterns and stop lights that would have to be installed that option is not a priority. The hope is to have the span open soon to traffic under the new damaged weight limit of 10 tons.

"If we can keep that traffic off then we could possibly open it to passenger traffic and that's the best option we have to move forward," said Blair.

That's the short term solution. The long term solution is up to people with advanced degrees and no quick fix, as the span is not only over the river -- but a railroad and highway as well.

'Everything will have to be fabbed, prior to, we'll have to go to our as built drawings which are from 1931, it'll be a very detailed repair," said Engineer Supervisor Jason Dean. "It's not something we can do overnight, or we'd be there, Bill, we'd be on the ground today, working on it if it was that easy.

They're working on it, but as of 5 p.m. Thursday -- expect a complete shutdown through the Memorial Day weekend.

There are now signs on Route 52 urging people in the Portsmouth area to detour into Ashland through Greenup. For people who need to go to Ashland from Chesapeake and Proctorville, you are urged to cross the Ohio River at the 17th Street Bridge in Huntington. For a lot of people, that may mean 20 extra minutes out of the way. For now, crews feel like those are the best alternatives.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/23/13 @ 10:30 a.m.
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The 12th Street Bridge in Ashland has been closed to traffic indefinitely.

According to Ashland Police, sometime between Sunday night and Tuesday a large vehicle apparently crashed into the bridge and took off. On Tuesday, someone reported the damage to the bridge and that is when crews were called in to inspect the bridge.

According to the Kentucky Department of Highways, engineers inspected steel beam damage on the bridge’s Ohio approach span and immediately imposed a 10-ton weight limit. Since then, engineers have been monitoring traffic and analyzing damage. Thursday morning, with continued heavy traffic and further analysis, engineers decided that keeping the bridge open poses too great a risk to the structure’s stability and to the safety of traffic.

Highway crews have placed barricades at the bridge and will set up appropriate signage and detours throughout the day. Engineers continue to assess repair plans, and are investigating options to alleviate the traffic disruption of closing the bridge.

“Right now, our priority is the safety of motorists,” said Kentucky Department of Highways District 9 Chief Engineer Bart Bryant. “While we understand the inconvenience this bridge closure will cause, it is the right thing to do in terms of protecting the traveling public.”

The bridge carries traffic one way across the Ohio River from Ohio to Kentucky, linking US 52 and US 23.

Traffic may detour using these routes to reach Ashland:

  • From Portsmouth, Ohio, east on US 52, cross the Jesse Stuart Memorial Bridge at Greenup, Ky., to US 23 south.
  • From Chesapeake, Ohio, west on US 52, cross the Nick Joe Rahall II bridge at Huntington, W.Va., to I-64 west to US 23 north.

    Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



    ORIGINAL STORY 5/21/13
    ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has put a temporary 10-ton weight limit on the Ben Williamson Memorial Bridge (12th Street) in Ashland following a crash that damaged part of the bridge’s superstructure.

    The bridge, which connects US 52 in Ohio with US 23 and US 60 in Kentucky, was struck by a vehicle on the Ohio approach early Tuesday morning.

    Bridge inspectors examined damaged steel beams, and determined that the bridge could remain open to traffic.

    Until repairs are complete, traffic over 10 tons coming from Ohio may detour using these routes to reach Ashland:


    • From Portsmouth, Ohio, east on US 52, cross the Jesse Stuart Memorial Bridge at Greenup, Ky., to US 23 south.
    • From Chesapeake, Ohio, west on US 52, cross the Nick Joe Rahall II bridge at Huntington, W.Va., to I-64 west to US 23 north.

      All traffic under 10 tons, as well as traffic crossing the 13th Street (Simeon Willis) Bridge into Ohio, remains unaffected


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