News and Tribune

October 29, 2012

Super loads lead to bridge closures

Equipment, beams being moved for interstate, windmill projects

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — The Sherman Minton Bridge has been closed often in recent months to make way for trucks carrying large beams and machinery needed to build bridges and windmills in other parts of the state.

“Anything that comes over like that with excessive height or weight has to be escorted,” said Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin.

The Sherman Minton is closed so that there’s no additional weight on the bridge when the super loads are coming across, Goodin continued. Typically the closures last up to 30 minutes.

Traffic is blocked before the bridge in both directions when the equipment and beams are being transferred across the Sherman Minton. Depending on the destination, the super loads are then routed to either Interstate 265, or they continue up Interstate 64. Goodin said much of the cargo is headed farther north for windmill projects.

“If that slows down, everything will get back to normal,” he said.

But there’s not a definite end date for the bridge closures to end as a result of the super load traffic.

Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield added some of the beams are being used for the Interstate 69 extension project, which will connect Evansville to Indianapolis.

“From INDOT’s perspective, we make sure that the routes being chosen have the capability of handling that traffic,” Wingfield said, as he added officials have to weigh whether the super loads will affect utility lines or bridges.

The frequency of the closures and the timing have been questioned by some members of the public, as the News and Tribune has received multiple phone calls and inquiries about the Sherman Minton closings.

Goodin said the ISP is getting a better schedule from the transfer companies of when the super loads are slated to come across the Sherman Minton, and are in turn distributing that information to area media outlets.

Last week, four super loads were announced as coming across the Sherman Minton, and those closures were all over the weekend.

The News and Tribune hasn’t received any additional closing schedules for the Sherman Minton as a result of the transfers, but will publish any new notifications in the newspaper and at newsandtribune.com.