I-71 closing again Sunday for another try at demolishing old Jeremiah Morrow Bridge

Stubborn section of steel won't budge
Posted at 12:20 PM, May 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-13 22:32:14-04

OREGONIA, Ohio -- Southbound Interstate 71 will be closed again Sunday morning for a third -- or is it a fourth? -- try at bringing down a stubborn section of the old Jeremiah Morrow Bridge.

The closure is between state Route 73 and state Route 48 from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Northbound I-71 will have short, intermittent closures over the same stretch and during the same time.

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.

The Little Miami Scenic River and Trail will be closed, as will rest areas on both the north- and southbound sides, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

A demolition team has been trying to bring down the old span's steel trusses for a few weeks. They largely succeeded on the first day, April 23. But their work was complicated when a connection to one of the charges came loose. They're wired similar to Christmas lights, so one faulty connection stops the entire sequence.


The faulty wiring meant one section was still standing. A few hours later, the demolition crew had reset the charges, and the still-standing span fell.

However, one of the four sections has remained "bound up on itself," ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning said. It didn't appear to budge during third blast April 30.


Bruning said after the third try no more blasts would be necessary, and that a crane would take down the rest. Brian Cunningham, another ODOT spokesman, said Wednesday the demolition team was still working on a plan that could involve a combination of blasts and tension to bring the steel to the ground.

Meanwhile, crews have had to close the adjacent, new span for safety.

"That's what's complicated this," Cunningham said. If the old bridge weren't directly next to the new bridge, the demolition team could've used more explosives, he said.

During past attempts, inspectors needed time to check the new span before allowing traffic across it again. For the second closure two weeks ago, ODOT reopened I-71 more than an hour ahead of schedule.

The new bridge opened last November. Construction of the $88.1 million bridge took six years. It is the tallest bridge in Ohio and designed to last 100 years, officials previously said.