Taxpayers not on hook for failed implosions of old I-71 bridge

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Taxpayers not on hook for failed implosions of old I-71 bridge

Despite four tries, work to implode the old Jeremiah Morrow Bridge over Interstate 71 in Warren County won’t cost taxpayers more money.

State officials and contractors, however, are still trying to figure out how to get the last section of the stubborn structure down.

Pennsylvania-based subcontractor Demtech is expected to complete the demolition and removal of demolished materials without additional funding.

“If it takes them a hundred tries or one try, the contract was to bring down the bridge,” Matt Bruning, press secretary for ODOT, said Monday. “There won’t be any additional costs to the taxpayers.”

The Ohio Department of Transportation will meet this week with the contractor about what to do with the piece that so far has not been demolished — despite four tries in three of the last four weeks.

This is the southernmost section of the southbound span of the old Jeremiah Morrow Bridge before the implosions. Staff Writer

The fourth explosive charges, set on Sunday, was the third day designated for implosion of the old southbound span of the bridge over Interstate 71 and the little Miami River. Sunday’s attempt brought down the southern part of the southernmost piece of the southbound span.

But the north side of the remaining steel landed on the cement pier for the old bridge, according to Bruning.

“It was supposed to come down like a W. It came down more like a V. The southern part is still sitting on the pier,” Bruning said.

It remained unclear what ODOT and Demtech, the subcontractor hired by Kokosing Construction to do the job for $3 million, will do next.

“It’s too early to tell,” Bruning said. “The plan going forward they will develop over the next week.”

Demtech has not responded to requests for interviews about the project, begun on April 23 with much hoopla, including media access.

The past two implosion attempts have been off limits to the public and media.

The area around the bridge, including I-71, flight path above, river and bike path below were all blocked off May 7 from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.

On Sunday the northbound lane was only partially closed, but otherwise transportation was again blocked off and rerouted during the implosion.

As part of closing out the contract, ODOT could pursue fines, known as liquidated damages, but that determination has yet to be made, Bruning said.

“Obviously nobody planned on this all happening. Our focus has been on bringing the bridge down,” he said.

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