Engineers working with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Indiana Department of Transportation have finalized plans for emergency repairs to the Kentucky Approach Bridge and anticipate reopening the bridge to traffic prior to morning rush hour on Monday, August 7.
Since the closure, the Project Team has worked around the clock to develop a repair plan that will restore previous traffic capacity: two (2) eastbound lanes on the lower deck, one (1) westbound lane on the lower deck, and one (1) westbound lane on the upper deck. The bi-state team will continue to monitor progress as repairs take place to safely reopen the bridge.
The bridge has been closed to traffic since early morning on July 27, when Sherman Minton Renewal crews discovered a problem with a bridge bearing that supports the upper deck of the Kentucky Approach Bridge. Out of an abundance of caution, officials closed both the upper and lower decks because the affected section of the structure partially overhangs the lower deck at the location of the bearing. The bearing and its pier are needed to provide support for the upper deck of the approach.
Engineers and crews have worked nonstop since the issue was discovered to determine the extent of the problem, inspect the bridge for any related issues and plan emergency repairs to ensure the safety of the structure. More than a dozen bridge inspectors were onsite Friday to complete detailed evaluations of the bridge.
On Saturday, construction crews began work in the area of the bearing as officials scoured the country for available materials for the unplanned repairs.
“The Sherman Minton Bridge is an important asset for this region, and that’s why Indiana and Kentucky are investing in a project that will ensure it is safe and sound for decades to come,” said Royce Meredith, Transportation Engineering Specialist with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “However, it is a 60-year-old bridge with unique elements, so materials are not always readily available. Our teams have done a great job moving quickly.”
To expedite the timeframe for the repair, leaders of the design-build team, INDOT and KYTC gathered inventories of materials available from their partners, from suppliers inside and outside their states and other projects that are underway nearby. This effort began even as inspectors were still determining which materials would be needed.
Some needed materials are being shipped from as far away as Texas. Other items are being shipped from Illinois and Ohio. Key materials began arriving over the weekend and will continue arriving through Wednesday.
The safety of drivers and construction crews has been the top priority since Bridge construction began in late summer 2021. Safety considerations have guided every step of the Bridge closure and will continue to be the driving factor in designing and implementing the necessary repairs.
The Sherman Minton Renewal represents the critical importance of investing in the rehabilitation of bridges and other transportation infrastructure.
The project aims to address structural deficiencies, replace or refurbish all bridge decks and apply a fresh coat of paint to add up to 30 years of life to the Sherman Minton Bridge. Through these renewal efforts, this project will provide a reliable and safe transportation link between Kentucky and Indiana, fostering regional connectivity and supporting economic development in the area.
“This major bi-state bridge rehabilitation project represents a steadfast commitment to maintain infrastructure that supports Kentuckiana families and businesses for future generations. Collaboration is happening at all levels to open the bridge as soon as possible, restoring the access that has been provided since the start of construction,” said Danny Corbin, Major Project Delivery Project Manager, Indiana Department of Transportation.
Until repairs are complete, motorists are advised to use alternate routes and designated detours. The suggested alternate route will be I-265 and I-65. Regional traffic signs and variable message boards will be posted in the project area, notifying motorists of the closure and alternate route.