Sherman Minton — the Bridge and the Man — Attract Renewed Attention

Hoosiers have renewed their interest in Sherman Minton, both the bridge and the man.

The Sherman Minton Renewal is a bridge rehabilitation and painting project that will significantly extend the life of the Sherman Minton Bridge, which spans the Ohio River from New Albany, Ind., to Louisville, Ky. Work began in earnest in September, and motorists are paying close attention to the project progress.

And in nearby Georgetown, Ind., a State Historical Marker, honoring Hoosier Sherman Minton, was unveiled on Nov. 14. The marker commemorates Minton, a Georgetown native and former Supreme Court justice, who died in 1965 at age 74.

Sherman Minton Renewal

Opened in 1962, the 59-year-old, double-decked Sherman Minton Bridge carries six lanes of traffic (I-64 and U.S. 150) over the Ohio River. The project scope includes replacement or refurbishment of all bridge decks, rehabilitation or replacement of structural steel elements and hanger cables, new lighting, drainage repairs, and painting of the steel components. The long-term repairs, along with normal preventative maintenance, will add up to 30 years of service life to the bridge.

Indiana and Kentucky will share the $137 million cost of the work, and there are no plans to toll the bridge. The construction approach ensures that at least one lane of traffic in each direction will remain open for nearly 95% of the time, and lanes will be closed in one direction for just 54 days of the estimated 843 total days of work.

“Based on significant public input, we identified that two lanes of traffic in each direction need to be open during the majority of the project,” said  INDOT Major Projects Senior Project Manager
Danny Corbin.

Also, once annually, the contractor is allowed up to nine consecutive days of full closure in each direction and up to three weekends of full closure. Construction is expected to take three construction seasons to complete, with final work slated to occur in fall 2023.

The project will be divided into four phases. Phase 1 will last until early 2022 for the first half of eastbound construction on the lower deck.

In Phase 1, two lanes of the lower deck of the bridge will be closed and only the eastbound lane will remain open. Three lanes will be open on the upper deck: two westbound and one eastbound.
A view of the double-decked Sherman Minton Bridge in early November.

Primary Phase 1 activities are painting, reconstruction on the lower eastbound deck, and steel repairs as needed while the deck is removed. Since September, crews have been tending to the lower eastbound deck of the Sherman Minton Bridge. In early November, crews performed deck patching on the Indiana and Kentucky
approach bridges.

In late November, crews worked on the eastbound I-265 to southbound I65 ramp to mill rumble strips in the shoulder and
prepare for lane striping. An up-to-nine-day directional closure of the bridge is scheduled to begin Dec. 14, with eastbound I-64 closed until
Dec. 23 (or earlier) for deck rehabilitation on the Sherman Minton. As part of the project, new concrete walls will replace open guardrails on both sides of the bridge.

“One of the concepts for the design-build team was to provide an alternative barrier rail system for the bridge,” said Corbin. “Instead of the current open rail, there will be a concrete barrier rail on the bridge that updates the bridge to modern safety standards.”

Painting will occur during all phases of the project. This year, the upper truss was painted because there are no other repairs being made to
that area. After blasting the steel to ensure that the upper-truss surface was free of existing paint and rust, workers applied primer and intermediate coats before the finish coat, which is in a similar shade of the silvery aluminum to match the original 1960s bridge span color.

To engage the public regarding the project, the project team created a Guess the Gallons contest (left photo). The contest focused on the finished-coat portion, from truss to pier, of the painting process. Six people who guessed closest to the correct answer of how many gallons of paint it takes to cover the entirety of the bridge won $100 gift cards to nearby restaurants. The correct answer was 12,000 gallons.

Phase 2 will take place from early 2022 to mid-2022 for the second half of eastbound construction.

Phase 3 is scheduled to start mid-2022 and finish in late 2022 for the first half of westbound construction. Phase 4 is to run from late 2022 to mid-2023 for the second half of westbound construction. For both phases, three lanes (two eastbound, one westbound) will be open on the lower deck, and two lanes closed and one open (westbound) on the upper deck. After Stage 4, final traffic configurations will take place.

“The Sherman Minton Bridge is one of the few double-deck structures in the country,” said Corbin. “It’s a tied-arch bridge, and is significant for many reasons, including mobility. The concrete surface has not been replaced since 1962, and it is important to rehabilitate infrastructure that is vital to the communities that we live and work in.”

Sherman Minton State Historical Marker

A public dedication ceremony took place Nov. 14 on State Road 64 for the state historical marker commemorating Minton, a former Supreme Court justice and U.S. senator from Georgetown, Ind. The two-sided marker, located in the Floyd County town of Georgetown, is located 9½ miles from the Sherman Minton Bridge.

“There are probably citizens who really don’t know who Sherman Minton was or are aware of his historical significance,” said Georgetown Town Council President Chris Loop. “They know the name of the bridge, but they may not know that he was a sitting Supreme Court justice and had input on major events such as Brown v. Board of Education, which obviously had national implications.”

A New Albany High School graduate, Minton earned law degrees from Indiana University and Yale University. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1934. Nominated by President Franklin D.
Roosevelt, he served as a Seventh Circuit Court judge from 1941 to 1949. Nominated by President Harry S. Truman, Minton served on the Supreme Court from 1949 to 1956. Health issues forced
Minton to retire, upon which he returned to New Albany.

More than 700 state markers have been installed on Indiana roadsides since 1946 as part of the Indiana Historical Marker Program, run by the Indiana Historical Bureau, a division of the Indiana
State Library.

About The Sherman Minton Renewal Project

The Sherman Minton Renewal is a major bridge rehabilitation and painting project that will significantly extend the life of the 61-year-old bridge. The double-decked bridge carries six lanes of traffic (I-64 and US 150) over the Ohio River connecting Louisville, KY and New Albany, IN.

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