News and Tribune

Clark County

July 8, 2013

Fewer lanes, bigger delays: Ohio River Bridge Project closures about to start

(Continued)

CLOSING RATIONALE

Construction crews will use the I-64 east to I-65 south ramp as a staging point for work in Spaghetti Junction and taking out a lane weave will help keep traffic moving through the interchange, officials said at a press conference Monday.

There are 40 bridges comprising Spaghetti Junction that have to be widened, replaced or constructed, said Max Rowland, project manager with Walsh Construction.

“Closing that ramp allows for the maintenance of traffic,” said Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Project Manger Andy Barber.

He explained that the ramp has traffic merging from I-64 east to I-65 southbound, as well as traffic traveling from I-64 westbound.

“There’s a pinch point there,” Barber said. “We’re taking out that conflict so it makes traffic move easier.”

The fewer lane weaves and merges that exist, the smoother traffic will flow through the junction. And the reason that the I-64 east to I-65 south ramp was chosen was because it is the least traveled of the ramps in Spaghetti Junction.

Barber said, at the last traffic count, 8,000 vehicles use the ramp per day.

“There’s also an easy detour ... [using] I-264 for traffic that would normally be taking the route,” he said.

For commuters that travel the route to access downtown Louisville, Barber said those drivers will be directed to use the Ninth Street exit.

LESSONS LEARNED, HEADACHES UNAVOIDABLE

Barber said the traffic patterns being implemented may change, but transportation planners are using lessons learned during the I-64 Sherman Minton Bridge closure that began in September 2011 and lasted through February 2012.

“We’ve committed to having two lanes of interstate traffic running at all times,” Barber said.

By limiting the closures and diverting a large portion of the traffic that would pass through the area, planners are hoping to avoid major delays.

“But a big thing during this project is that the Sherman Minton won’t be closed and the Kennedy won’t be closed ... and the Clark Memorial will remain open for a large majority of the project,” Barber said. “You have more cross-river opportunity than you did with the Sherman Minton closure.”

The Clark Memorial Bridge is scheduled to close for 30 to 45 days starting in May. In addition, access north of Court Avenue on U.S. 31 will be prohibited for about a year while a new flyover ramp is under construction.

Despite the plans, Barber said there will still be delays.

“There will be backups; it will be slower to get through here — it is a construction project,” he said.

He added there will be several phases to the project and traffic changes will be occurring throughout construction of the downtown corridor.

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