I-71 in Warren County to be blocked Sunday for bridge implosion

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I-71 in Warren County to be blocked Sunday for bridge implosion

The old southbound span of the Jeremiah Morrow bridge on Interstate 71 in Warren County is to come tumbling down on Sunday.

The I-71 approaches to the bridge area are to be blocked from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Ohio 73 and Ohio 48 interchanges, along with closures for the bike path and river below.

Contractors and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) were preparing for the implosion of the segments of steel underlying the southbound stretch and not hanging over the Little Miami River.

“It’s wonderful. Crews are scattered throughout the forest area and, when the moment comes, they start a countdown that echoes throughout the trees,” Public Information Specialist Liz Lyons said in an email.

It is the last structure still standing from the bridge opened to traffic on Nov. 19, 1964. The concrete, and steel overhanging the river, on the southbound span have already been removed.

ODOT replaced the 50-year-old bridge with a new one after six years and $104 million in construction. Final work, including reopening of the rest area, is to completed by July 31.

On Sunday, the implosion will be completed, weather permitting, unless some other problem, such as a safety breech, forces a delay.

Detours will be set up. This will also require the ramps from Ohio 123 to northbound I-71, east of Lebanon, and from Wilmington Road to southbound I-71, to be closed during the demolition.

Limited media invitations were sent out in anticipation of the demolition, to begin about 7 a.m. Sunday.

Others will be discouraged from observing the event, because of safety concerns. The ODOT traffic camera focused on the bridge will offer an online view.

“No public viewing. Everything will be closed by 5 a.m.,” Lyons said in response to questions. “It’s invitation only due to the ordnances, safety issues (vests, hard hats). We’ll have officers from OSHP and ODNR all over the woods to check for people hiking, camping, canoeing and/or bike trailing it.”

The span is named for Ohio’s first congressman.

In case of inclement weather, the demolition will be pushed back to Sunday, April 30.

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