The Ohio Dept. Transportation’s proposed Ironton-Russell Bridge is in limbo, due to a volatile commodities market and constructability constraints. ODOT rejected all bids on Jan. 23 after they came in an average of 28% over budget.

Designed by Baker and Associates, Caraopolis, Pa., the two-lane, three-span cable-stayed bridge is to span 1,897 ft across the Ohio River and link to Kentucky with a 59-ft steel deck and 515-ft-tall tower.

In January 2005, the bridge was estimated to cost $76 million. At an Oct. 11 prebid meeting, ODOT set a new budget of $85 million for the project. But state engineers calculated a cost increase of $14 million to $99 million immediately before the bid letting due to volatility in the commodities market, especially for fuel and cement.

The low bid, offered by Kokosing Construction, Fredericktown, Ohio, came in at $109 million. The state simply does not have the money to pay for the bridge, says an ODOT spokeswoman.

“We were expecting escalation of 3% in 2006” for costs of materials, says Richard Martinko, ODOT assistant director of highway operations. ODOT now expects 12.6% inflation for the year and will have to start prioritizing projects, says Martinko. “We will reorder some projects to get critical projects sold first,” he says.

One significant constructability issue that straddles the commodities market is the availability of skilled ironworkers. The design of the bridge would require a significant work force of ironworkers and they are in tight supply, says Martinko.

ODOT now is reevaluating the design of the bridge in the hopes of bringing down the cost, he says.