Interstate 71 closed again for implosion of old Jeremiah Morrow Bridge

I-71 to close (again) for 3rd bridge implosion
Posted at 3:38 PM, Apr 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-30 07:47:39-04

It appears a third try at imploding the old Morrow Bridge has failed. Find out why.

OREGONIA, Ohio -- If at first you don't succeed, blow it up again.

The old Jeremiah Morrow Bridge didn't come all the way down after two blasts last weekend, so the Ohio Department of Transportation is giving its contractor a do-over.

That means Interstate 71 will be closed -- again -- for several hours Sunday, April 30. The detour is in the same area, between state Route 73 and state Route 48, from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Suggested detour routes

Southbound I-71: State Route 73 to U.S. Highway 42 to state Route 48 to I-71

Northbound I-71: State 48 to U.S. Highway 42 to state Route 73 to I-71.

During this detour, the ramps from state Route 123 to northbound I-71 and from Wilmington Road to southbound I-71 will be closed.

Also, people won't be allowed on the Little Miami Scenic River and Trail between Wilmington Road and state Route 350. The north and southbound rest areas will be closed.

Why do they have to close the highway?

Crews have been working to bring down the remaining steel trusses on the old southbound span.

During the first attempt on Sunday, April 23, a connection to one of the charges came loose. They're wired similar to Christmas lights, so one faulty connection stops the entire sequence.

One section remained standing, and another section only partially collapsed:


A few hours later, the demolition crew had reset the charges, and the still-standing span fell. However, the section that had partially collapsed didn't really budge.

"Because it was in close proximity to the newly built bridges -- so, they could really have gone out there and really blown it up, but it could have damaged the new bridges -- so they were being cautious in their approach," ODOT spokesman Brian Cunningham said.

But, the only safe method to bring down the rest is another implosion, Cunningham said.

Taxpayers won't be on the hook, though: ODOT isn't paying for the third attempt.

After the blasts, inspectors need time to check the new, adjacent bridge to be sure it's not damaged.

Last weekend's closure of I-71 dragged out two hours longer than expected; ODOT said its contractor won't be penalized for that extra time.