Tri-state bridges: How safe are they? - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Tri-state bridges: How safe are they?

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The closure of the Ashland-bound Ben Williamson Memorial Bridge is sending drivers all over the regional map, trying to get into the bluegrass state.

"Usually, we make a trip everyday," says Beverly Pancake of Coal Grove.

Pancake now detours over the Ironton-Russell Bridge for her trips to the doctor and the mall.

"We wonder why they couldn't cut that out and restructure it."

If only it were that easy.

Officials with the Kentucky Department of Highways say they did not shut down the bridge in reaction to any other event.

They did this in reaction to studies that told their engineers that this bridge is unsafe because of the high volume of commercial trucks that usually go over the Ashland bridges.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, a structurally deficient bridge as a bridge that is deteriorating or cracked.

According to research by the Associated Press, neither Ashland bridge has been deemed deficient.

The Ironton-Russell Bridge, though, has been deemed deficient, and it has seen a huge increase in traffic because of detours.

The bridge joins about 2,500 others in Ohio that are deficient.

Kentucky and West Virginia both have about 1,000 sub-par bridges.

The Ironton-Russell Bridge is not a recommended detour (officials with the Kentucky Department of Highways recommend the West Huntington Bridge or the Greenup Dam Bridge), but for many, it's the shortest.

Brenda Ross of Lawrence County takes the rickety Ironton-Russell Bridge, and she laughs when she talks about how she feels while using it.

"Just hope the Russell Bridge doesn't collapse when we go across it."