By BRADEN LAMMERS
A detour route associated with the Ohio River Bridges Project that would divert truck traffic through downtown Jeffersonville raised some concerns the last time it was presented to city officials.
Essentially, the same detour plan was presented to the Jeffersonville Board of Public Works Wednesday, but this time it was granted approval.
Andrew Ledbetter, an engineer with Jacobs Engineering Inc. who presented the detour plans, said he met with city officials after the concerns were voiced at a June Board of Public Works meeting. The closure, and detour, will be the result of work on U.S. 31, which will also include the closure of the Clark Memorial Bridge for 30 to 45 days in the spring.
At the same time the bridge closes, U.S. 31 just north of Court Avenue [which leads to Interstate 65 access] will be closed. It will remain closed for about a year.
In order to accommodate traffic attempting to access I-65 north, or U.S. 31 north, while a new flyover ramp is under construction, planners developed a detour through downtown Jeffersonville. The detour directed traffic onto Court Avenue, to Spring Street, down to 10th Street and back onto the highways.
But Jeffersonville Street and Sanitation Commissioner David Hosea said he was concerned about truck traffic tearing up the road and damaging utilities underneath Spring Street.
To help alleviate some of the concerns, Ledbetter said engineers went back and looked at the actual volume of traffic on northbound U.S. 31 and what percentage was truck traffic. He said about 10,000 vehicles travel north on U.S. 31 daily and about 1.5 percent, or about 150, of the vehicles are trucks.
“We don’t anticipate that volume will actually see Spring [Street] just because trucks aren’t going to want to go that way once they realize [the detour],” Ledbetter said.
And after discussions with city officials, no other viable route was able to be identified. Ledbetter also said crews would try and limit the amount of construction trucks traveling down Spring Street.
“We can’t totally say there’s not going to be a construction truck on Spring Street. But we’re going to try and limit it to the west side, or southbound side, as much as possible,” he said. “After discussing that, we all came to the conclusion that this probably was the best detour route for that traffic.”
Hosea was asked if he approved of the plan and he agreed. Jeffersonville Engineering Manager Bill Dixon also agreed that the city’s engineering department approved the plan. With both approvals, the board passed the proposed detour route.
In addition, when the detour goes into effect the intersection at Court Avenue and Spring Street will be modified. On-street parking on Court Avenue — from Pearl Street to Spring Street — will be eliminated in order to install a left turn lane at the Court Avenue and Spring Street intersection.
Ledbetter added that when the new flyover ramp reopens, drivers will not be able to access U.S. 31 from Court Avenue.
“Once the new design is complete, there is no access to U.S. 31 from Court [Avenue],” he said. “We’re showing this as a detour, but in the future this is probably the route that people will be using.”
The closures and the construction work is expected to begin in mid-April or early May.