Monday, December 5, 2016

Three boats from last week

I had to go up to Point Pleasant WV last Thursday. While I was there, I saw three boats worth getting pictures of.

First, the M/V Robert Dean Moore as seen from Henderson WV. This was on the Kanawha River less than a mile from the mouth.

Then the Andy Mullins moving from the Ohio to the Kanawha.

And the Jeffrey A. Raike departing the Gallipolis Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam.

The politicians and the Corps of Engineers say the name is Robert C. Byrd, but I'm old enough and set in my ways enough that it's still the Gallipolis Locks and Dam.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

New Ironton-Russell Bridge, part 6 of 7

Here I ask a question, and I leave it up to people more knowledgeable in the graphic arts than I to answer it.

I'm pretty sure a speaker at the bridge dedication ceremony last week said the traditional "Welcome to Ohio" signs on bridges marking the state's borders will be changed, and the sign on the new bridge is the first or one of the first to be installed.

Here is the sign.

Here is the old style of sign.

I'm no graphics expert, but to me the old sign is better. For one thing, I don't get the "OhiO" and the orange border on the new one. The state flag colors are red, white and blue, not orange, white and blue. I don't know that you would find orange on the The Ohio State campus.

On further review, I see that the "OhiO" on the new sign is in brown. Brown and orange. The colors of the Cleveland Browns, the winningest franchise in the NFL in recent years. Going with a winner. Yes, that's it.

But I defer to others.

Next up: How a dozen of us got stranded on the wrong side of the river.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The new Ironton-Russell Bridge, post 5 of many (probably 7)

You don't often get the opportunity to walk on an Ohio River bridge unencumbered by motor vehicle traffic, unless you're talking about the Big Four Bridge in Louisville or the Purple People Bridge at Cincinnati. Back in 1977 we got to do it on the Silver Memorial Bridge while it was closed a few months for repairs to some butt weld cracks (I still have to be careful to type that right), and again in 1985 the evening or two before Huntington's new East End Bridge opened. I have some slides from that evening in a box waiting to be scanned.

We got to do that last Wednesday with the new Ironton-Russell Bridge. While a lot of people took selfies on the bridge or of other people on the bridge, I tended to look up at the towers and the cables. It was starting to hurt my neck until a woman suggested I lie on the roadway and shoot upward while flat on my back. The pavement was still wet from the rain, and I was reluctant to do so because I might need help getting up. She said she would help me up if I needed it. So I lay there on wet concrete. This is one image I got.

I think it looks better rotated 90 degrees right or left ...

... but not so much upside down.

My preference is a narrow horizontal crop emphasizing the cables.

And that was part of my excitement for the day.

Up next: Is this part really an improvement?

UPDATE: I posted a link to this entry on my personal Facebook page. When I saw the thumbnail photo that Facebook edited down, I kind of liked it. It was something like this:

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New Ironton-Russell Bridge, part 4 of many

I've been in the journalism business more than four decades. My first Ohio River story for pay that I can recall was in January 1977, during the big ice buildup. In that time, several new highway bridges have opened in my part of the river. Those would be at Parkersburg-Belpre, Blennerhassett Island, Ravenswood, Pomeroy-Mason, two at Huntington, Ashland, the Greenup Locks and Dam, two at Portsmouth and one at Maysville. In all that time, I had never covered a bridge dedication and opening. I had attended three demolitions, if you count one on the Kanawha, but never an opening of a bridge on the Ohio.

Until last week, of course. Here are a few images from that rainy day. I'll spare you stuff from under the ceremony tent.

Short version of events: Classic cars gathered in Ironton for a parade. Dignitaries spoke. A ribbon was cut. Boy Scouts carried flags across the bridge as pedestrians walked across without traffic. High school bands from two states marched. The parade of classic cars accompanied the pedestrians. Soon, the bridge was closed to pedestrians so the Ohio Department of Transportation could open it to traffic.

The rain that marked the speaking let up when it came time to cut the ribbon, and it was over when people were allowed to walk the bridge. A few minutes before traffic was allowed on the bridge, the sun came out.

In one newsroom where I once worked, the standing joke for writing about these events was that we would not use a standard TV news line: And a good time was had by all. Doing that was as unforgivable as referring to snow as "the white stuff" or talking about Jack Frost. But as far as I could tell, most people had a good time.

Next: How I got a decent image when someone suggested I try an unusual angle.

The new Ironton-Russell Bridge, part 3 of many

Before we get into the usual photo presentation of the opening of the new Ohio River bridge connecting Ironton, Ohio, and Russell, Kentucky, an overview of the project is in order.

Some basic facts about the new bridge, courtesy a project overview provided by the Ohio Department of Transportation at the dedication ceremony last week:

-- The bridge is a three-span cable stayed structure with reinforced concrete edge girder superstructure on the main span. Other types of designs, such as suspension, truss and arch, were considered, but the cable stay was chosen for reasons of construction cost, aesthetics, constructrability, maintenance, serviceability and inspection.

-- The main span is 900 feet long. The approach spans are 370 feet long each, for a total length of 1,640 feet. The roadway is 32 feet wide with no sidewalk, which was eliminated in the design phase to reduce costs. (I can tell you that as long as traffic behaves itself, there is enough room on the berm to walk across if you really want to. I have read that pedestrian traffic is not prohibited, but it is not encouraged, either).

-- The horizontal navigational clearance of the main span is 805 feet.

-- Each tower is 300.72 feet from the top to the river at normal pool, and 216.22 feet from the top to the deck.

-- The main structure of the bridge has 120 cables. There are 15 pairs on each back span and 30 in the main span. The strands are made of steel. The number of strands varies from 14 in the cables nearest to both towers to 35 in the cables farthest from the towers on the back spans. The cables at mid-span have 31 strands each.

-- The old bridge was restricted to passenger vehicles, light trucks and buses. On average it carried 10,300 vehicles per day. The new bridge will not have the same weight and width restrictions, so traffic numbers should be higher.

-- The construction cost was slightly more than $81 million. The total project cost is somewhere around $90 million.

One thing that wasn't in the fact sheet -- or mentioned by any speaker at the ceremony -- was the name for the bridge that local newspapers had been mentioning. Local media was under the impression that the bridge would be named for Oakley C. Collins, a former state senator who died about 30 years ago. Collins was known for steering state money toward education facilities in his district. The county's vocational school bears his name, as does the main building on the Ohio University Southern campus in Ironton. But Collins is also remembered by some as the man who owned the coal company that somehow strip mined in Wayne National Forest. Everyone at the ceremony referred to the new bridge by the name of the old one -- the Ironton-Russell Bridge. Whether there is political will to have the name formally changed remains to be seen.

Chokepoint at Paducah

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, for people who didn't travel ...

A lot of attention has come this year to the aging lock and dam infrastructure at both ends of the Ohio River. Here is an article (with wonderful photos) from the New York Times last week about Locks and Dam 52.

Don't ask me why there's more attention in the media to this unless someone in the industry or in the Corps of Engineers decided being quiet and shunning attention was getting them nowhere.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

New Ironton-Russell Bridge, Part 2 of Many

After the customary congratulatory speeches and ribbon cutting, people attending the dedication ceremony of the new Ironton-Russell Bridge today got to walk across it mostly unbothered by auto traffic except for a parade of antique cars and trucks.

As people neared the midpoint of the bridge, they saw a boat coming down pushing six petroleum or chemical barges. The boat turned out to be the M/V City of Paducah, and I think the barges were labeled as carrying benzene, but I could be wrong there.

This was probably the first chance many people on the bridge had ever had to see a towboat this close. The rain earlier in the day helped, as wet barges tend to have deeper colors than dry ones. The just look better, and they can photograph better.

# # #

I have lots more to say and lots more pictures to show from the dedication, but this is the Thanksgiving holiday, and I expect to spend some time with my wife's family from out of town these next few days. I'll post as I can, although the volume might not kick up until Sunday. Until then, enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New Ironton-Russell Bridge, part 1 of many

For the second day in a row, the clouds parted and allowed me to get the picture I wanted. This was not my best picture of the day, or my favorite, but it was the most fortuitous in the true sense of the word.

More to come after I decompress after a morning and early afternoon walking all over the place and mid-afternoon and evening chasing after a three-year-old. It will include how I got some decent pictures after a woman whose name I do not know encouraged me to lie flat on the roadway to get the picture I wanted.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

End of an old bridge

It looks like this is the end for the 96-year-old bridge crossing the Ohio River connecting Ironton OH and Russell KY. A ceremony tomorrow, Nov. 23, at 11 a.m. marks the opening of the new Oakley C. Collins Bridge and the closing of the old one just a little downstream.

So many thoughts come to mind about the old bridge.

-- In cold weather, it is closed to traffic because the old steel is too brittle to bear the weight of traffic.

-- The bridge has been closed to pedestrian traffic for years because a nesting pair of arctic peregrine falcons called the bridge home, and they dive bombed people to keep them away from the nexts.

-- Back in the late 1970s or early 1980s, a Cleveland OH resident named Russell Toll drove down to see the bridge. He had been looking at an Ohio highway map and saw the "Russell Toll Bridge" on it, so he had to see the bridge that was named for him.

-- The Russell side of the bridge was where Ohioans went to buy cheap cigarettes, and the Ohio side was where Kentuckians went to buy Ohio Lottery tickets.

For those who aren't from the OH-KY-WV Tri-State Area, Oakley Collins was a longtime member of the Ohio General Assembly. He passed away in or around 1986. He directed a lot of state money to his district, especially for public schools and higher education. He had detractors, as would anyone who was in politics that long, but these next two days belong to him, so we'll let that be for now.

Whether people will call the new bridge the Oakley Collins Bridge remains to be seen. Around here, if something new replaces something old, people tend to keep the old name, especially if the new name belongs or belonged to a politician. We're just contrary that way, I guess.

I hope to go down for the dedication of the new bridge. The old one is the oldest highway bridge between Wheeling and Cincinnati, and several others have come and gone in the time it's been in service. It wasn't the first highway bridge between Wheeling and Cincinnati. Two in the Marietta-Parkersburg area had that distinction, but they were both replaced and demolished in the 1980s.

The Ironton-Russell Bridge's closing means its demolition is near. There has been an effort to save the bridge as a pedestrian crossing, as the new bridge does not have a sidewalk. The problem has been money, and if anyone has come forth with the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would take to keep the old bridge going, I've not heard about it.

According to an article in The Daily Independent of Ashland KY, demolition will mostly be done by a crane lowering pieces into barges. Bringing down bridges with explosives is a neat sight, but this bridge likely is too close to houses on the Russell side and businesses on the Ohio side for that to be done safely.

So here's to an old bridge. Adam and I went down to Ironton today to get a few last pictures of it in service. I wanted to get a picture of the sun setting behind the bridge, creating a silhouette. But I forgot that to the west of the bridge is a big hill, and there was no way to get the photo I wanted. The next best thing would be to get the bridge lit up by the light of the setting sun, but the western sky was cloudy.

But Providence was with us, and the clouds cleared out to give us five minutes of shooting time. The photo at the top of this post is one that we got.

As I snapped away, Adam noticed that for a few seconds there was no traffic on the bridge, meaning there was no noise of cars and trucks driving over the metal grate deck. "That's what it will sound like tomorrow," he said of the silence.

Yes, it will.

M/V Detroit at Catlettsburg

On our way to somewhere else, Adam and I stopped at Catlettsburg harbor to see what we could see. We got to see the Detroit crossing the river from Ohio to Kentucky lightboat.

It was a good start to the afternoon.