Sunday, July 08, 2001

Historic bridge to be replaced


Portsmouth faces 3-year detour

The Associated Press

        PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Before the Ulysses S. Grant Bridge was constructed nearly 75 years ago, people traveling to work here crossed the Ohio River in small boats, often using their oars to push away ice during winter.

        When the bridge was dedicated in 1927, “it was a godsend to them,” said Clarence Tingler, whose mother lived in Kentucky and worked in this city 85 miles south of Columbus.

        The Ohio Department of Transportation closed the bridge last week to begin a three-year, $28.5 million project to dismantle and replace it with one that is wider and can handle heavier loads. Traffic has been detoured to the Carl Perkins Bridge.

        “It's been a big part of Portsmouth, but you can't stand in the way of progress,” Mr. Tingler said.

        Paul Graham, an administrator in the Office of Environmental Services at ODOT, said it was originally a toll bridge for a private company. It was sold to the state in 1957, and ODOT took it over in 1974.

        ODOT spokeswoman Kathleen Fuller said the department financed two substantial upgrades in 1977 and 1978 at a cost of more than $8 million, forcing commuters to cross the river in a ferry during construction.

        The bridge will be memorialized in a nearby park with plaques, including one with an excerpt of a poem by David Steinman, the designer of the Grant bridge.

       



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