News and Tribune

March 3, 2014

Clark Memorial Bridge to narrow next week; will close in May

Construction work will cause bridge to close for 6 weeks in late-May

By MATT KOESTERS
matt.koesters@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — Work on the Clark Memorial Bridge beginning Monday will make the bridge impassable for pedestrians and cause the outside lanes in each direction to shut down for several months.

The closures, part of the Ohio River Bridges Project, are necessary to make it possible for Walsh Construction to begin the relocation of the bridge’s historic elements and create the approach for a new flyover ramp that will cross over Interstate 65, said Max Rowland, communications project manager with Walsh.

The historic elements include the iconic art deco pylons, limestone blocks and railing.

“We are actually going to remove and relocate the pylons,” Rowland said. “Where they’re located right now, they need to be removed from that location and actually moved to the north, and each one needs to be spread apart farther ... to make room for the new ramps that are going to be constructed coming up from existing Court Avenue onto the existing Second Street Bridge.”

The lane restrictions and sidewalk closure will remain in place until the planned closure of the bridge, which is expected to take place in late-May. The preparatory work being done in the coming weeks will help limit the amount of time the bridge will be closed, according to an Ohio River Bridges Project news release.

The bridge is expected to remain closed for just over six weeks, according to the release. During the full closure, the new U.S. 31 entrance and exit ramps to and from Court Avenue will be constructed. When the bridge reopens in July, the new ramps will be in use.

Clark Memorial was originally constructed between 1928 and 1929, and it was dedicated on Oct. 31, 1929, according to a historic analysis compiled by Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. When the bridge originally opened, motorists were charged a 35-cent toll to cross. The bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

The pylons will be located farther inland and farther apart from one another, Rowland said.

“As we build the new approach, we will actually put those same limestone blocks back so that when we’re finally done, it will still have the appearance of the old, historic limestone wall there,” Rowland explained. “That’s part of what we agreed to do and will do as far as the whole reconstruction of that approach.”

The project is being done according to preservation standards, said Greg Sekula, with the Southern Regional Office of Indiana Landmarks.

“Ideally, we’d like the existing approaches to stay intact, yes,” Sekula said. “But the reality is, they need to be adjusted to accommodate the road reconfiguration. We’ve been at the table providing input along the way.”

For more information about the Ohio River Bridges Project, visit newsandtribune.com and click on the “Bridges Project” tab.