CINCINNATI -- A years-long project to replace the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge on Interstate 71 is nearing completion, despite some challenges this spring.
The new bridge opened last November but saw temporary closures in April and May during the demolition of the old bridge. The bridge originally was scheduled for implosion April 23.
Although the first implosion attempt was mostly successful, one section of the bridge remained standing.
"I thought ODOT did a really excellent job of maintaining traffic," Warren County engineer Neil Tunison said. "Just unfortunately, it didn't fall down the way they'd hoped."
It took two more blasts and a crane to dismantle the bridge. The Ohio Department of Transportation concluded the majority of demolition work in May.
"There's some minor stuff, but all the steel structure itself, all that's gone and out of there," said Adam Treiber, project manager and engineer for ODOT District 8.
Challenges and delays like those faced with the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge are common risks when performing demolition work, Tunison said.
"You just can't predict how it's going to fall, how it's going to come apart," he said.
The new bridge was closed during the implosion attempts due to its proximity to the original structure. With closures scheduled during non-peak driving times, the demolition and its delays had minimal impact on traffic, particularly at the county level.
"When they closed them off, they closed them off at state routes, so there wasn't any traffic that used county roads to bypass the bridge," Tunison said.
Some concrete removal from the old bridge's piers is still underway. However, that work is minor enough that it won't affect traffic, Treiber said.
The $90 million project, which began in 2010, is on track to be completed within the next few months.
"We're on schedule to still finish this summer," Treiber said.
The timeline is in line with the original plan for the project, he added.
Lane closures will be in effect in the coming weeks to put down new asphalt. Minor work, including tree planting, is expected to wrap up in early fall. ODOT representatives don't expect any further lane closures for work related to demolition.
"There really isn't much bridge work being done right now," Treiber said.
Whether the extended demolition efforts impacted the cost of the project -- and to what degree -- is uncertain.
"That's to be determined," Treiber said.
Any increase in the project's cost is expected to be minimal, he noted.