From Kentucky Trucker:

Full closure of the bridge will be very limited

Launched in 2018, the Sherman Minton Renewal is a $90+ million bridge rehabilitation and painting project that will significantly extend the service life of the 57-year-old bridge. The project team has spent nearly two years coordinating with public officials, community leaders, business owners and the general public to determine a plan that allows for maximum access to the bridge while providing a safe environment for drivers and contractors working on repairs.

The Sherman Minton Renewal Project Team’s focus on public involvement included feedback from multiple open houses and input from its Community Advisory Committee and Environmental Justice Committee members to create the Preferred Alternative.

This is a design-build best value project, which means the price is not the only criteria that will determine which contractor is selected. The project delivery method invites innovative solutions that will potentially further reduce construction time and impact on the public.

Work Ahead

The project includes replacement or refurbishment of all bridge decks, rehabilitation or replacement of structural steel elements and hangar cables, new lighting, drainage repairs and painting of the steel components.

Many remember the full emergency closure of the bridge in 2011. A crack was discovered during a routine inspection, and the bridge was closed for nearly six months. During that time, significant repairs were made, and the structure was able to reopen.

This rehabilitation and repair work has undergone significant coordination with the Project Team, including INDOT, KYTC and other officials. Unlike the 2011 emergency closure, the Sherman Minton Renewal team has time to plan for repairs and prepare the public accordingly. Construction is expected to begin in 2021 and take approximately three years to complete.

Preferred Alternative

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federally-funded projects like the Sherman Minton Renewal to draft an Environmental Document and conduct an analysis of temporary social, economic and environmental impacts.

The Environmental Document was available for public review and comment at several locations around the project area and remains available online for review. To learn more about the Environmental Document, see http://shermanmintonrenewal.com/environmental-docs/

The Preferred Alternative will ensure at least one lane of traffic in each direction will remain open for nearly 95% of the estimated three-year construction process. Closures will not be in one consecutive period but will be limited to nine consecutive days per direction in a calendar year and up to three 3-day weekends per direction per calendar year.

Traffic Patterns and Planning

To minimize impacts on cross-river commuters and freight companies in the area, the project team has recommended a plan that will limit full closure of the bridge to only 54 total days of the estimated 843 total days of work.

The recommended approach reflects the public’s preference for maintaining access across the bridge to the fullest extent possible during construction while providing a safe environment for the driving public and the design-build contractor’s team.

  • Cross-river traffic will be maintained with two eastbound and two westbound travel lanes open during the majority of construction.
  • Temporary crossovers and additional temporary widening to ramp lanes will be implemented to facilitate the movement of traffic during construction.
  • One eastbound and one westbound lane will be closed throughout construction.
  • Existing access ramps will remain open during the majority of construction.
  • Two eastbound and/or two westbound lanes and associated access ramps may be closed nightly during construction for up to 180 nights per calendar year.

What’s Next

A design-build contractor will be selected later this year, and construction is expected to begin in 2021. The contractor will be permitted to work 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Changes in traffic patterns and full closures will not be allowed during certain holidays and other approved exceptions. The project website and social media channels will be updated regularly with construction and traffic information for the duration of the project.

After considering all comments, the states will confirm the Preferred Alternative later this year. Final approval of the Preferred Alternative will come from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in winter 2020.

To learn more about the Sherman Minton Renewal, visit www.ShermanMintonRenewal.com and follow the project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.